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Janice Lorenz v. Magee Women's Hospital of U.P.M.C.

April 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Cathy Bissoon



Pending before the Court is Defendant Magee Women's Hospital of U.P.M.C.'s Motion to Dismiss (Doc.8). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will deny Defendant's motion. BACKGROUND

A.Factual Background

Plaintiff Janice Lorenz is a former employee of Defendant UPMC.*fn1 Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8 (Doc. 7). Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 1998, as a department assistant at Defendant's Mercy Hospital ("Mercy"). Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff is over the age of forty. Id. at ¶ 15. Plaintiff has anxiety, high blood pressure, and panic attacks, which she alleges are disabilities.

Id. at ¶ 33.

In March 2008, Plaintiff received a new supervisor, Anita Nowak. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that "[i]n December 2009, Plaintiff and Nowak had disagreements about hospital policies and Nowak resented Plaintiff due to her protected classes (age and disability), complaints and requests for accommodations and [Family and Medical Leave Act] activity." Id. at ¶ 13.

Plaintiff generally alleges that "Nowak continually objected to Plaintiff," "resented Plaintiff," and "made Plaintiff's employment inconvenient to force her resignation." Id. at ¶¶ 16-18. On December 22, 2009, Nowak changed Plaintiff's work assignment to require Plaintiff to work at Defendant's Magee Women's Hospital ("Magee") on selected days per week. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. Plaintiff alleges that this work assignment change was made "to harass Plaintiff and interfere with her employment routine," and that "[t]here was no prevailing legitimate business reason to" make the change. Id. On January 4, 2010, Nowak moved up Plaintiff's start date to work at Magee, allegedly "to intentionally cause further inconvenience." Id. at ¶ 21. On January 10 and 11, 2010, Nowak and younger co-workers allegedly "verbally harassed Plaintiff." Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff further alleges that "Nowak and the younger co-workers yelled and humiliated Plaintiff during her training at Magee." Id. at ¶ 23.

Plaintiff also alleges that Nowak "pulled stunts to single out and embarrass Plaintiff because of her age." Id. at ¶ 26. As an example of such behavior, Plaintiff alleges that "Nowak threw documents all over the floor on purpose and then ordered only that the Plaintiff get down and pick them all up while Nowak and younger co-workers laughed at her." Id. at ¶ 27. According to Plaintiff, the alleged harassment by Nowak "caused Plaintiff to suffer disabling severe panic attacks, high blood pressure and anxiety." Id. at ¶ 29.

On January 13, 2010, Plaintiff alleges that she complained to human resources that she was being harassed by Nowak and younger co-workers. Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff also informed human resources of her disabilities and requested "a transfer away from harassing behavior due to her disabilities." Id. at ¶ 33.

On January 21, 2010, Plaintiff alleges that Nowak "disciplined" Plaintiff for a "vague 'attitude' issue," "specifically reprimanded Plaintiff about complaining to HR about her," and "specifically threatened Plaintiff's employment and told Plaintiff she should find another job." Id. at ¶¶ 38, 40, 41.

On January 22, 2010, Plaintiff requested medical leave due to her anxiety, high blood pressure, and panic attacks. Id. at ¶ 45. Nowak allegedly "immediately retaliated against Plaintiff by approaching her and threatening Plaintiff's employment should she continue with the pursuit of leave." Id. at ¶ 46. Plaintiff's leave request was approved, and Plaintiff informed Nowak and Defendant that she could return to work in nine weeks, on March 29, 2010, with approval of Plaintiff's physician. Id. at ¶ 52. Plaintiff's physician also requested that Plaintiff use three additional weeks of medical leave intermittently through December 20, 2011, as needed, to minimize stress. Id. at ¶ 53. Nowak allegedly "threatened Plaintiff that if she utilized 'intermittent' Family Medical leave, Nowak would intentionally schedule Plaintiff to work in the harassing environment of Magee every day of the week." Id. at ¶ 55.

Plaintiff also requested, as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), to be scheduled to work at Mercy and not Magee. Id. at ¶ 65. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant "temporarily permitted Plaintiff to return to work at Mercy," that "Defendant's tone established that Plaintiff solely working at Mercy was temporary," and that "Plaintiff anticipated a return to Magee and continued harassment." Id. at ¶¶ 66, 67, 73. ...

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