Penn is requesting that a suit against the University by a former employee, alleging that she was discriminated against based on race and sexually harassed, be moved to federal court.
Citing claims related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the University requested the change in jurisdiction in a “notice of removal” filed Nov. 12.
The plaintiff in the case, Erica Sterling, filed a complaint with the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia on Sept. 16. Sterling, a 42-year-old black former employee at the Perelman School of Medicine, alleged among other things, that she was mistreated by coworkers and eventually fired due to her race.
Though Sterling was an exemplary employee, the complaint alleges, she was told that she was not a good fit for her position and was not reinstated when Penn Med released a position description very similar to the one she held previously.
The University declined to comment, citing policy to not comment on pending litigation.
Sterling is asking for compensatory damages, including back pay and loss of benefits, and punitive damages as a result of the defendants’ alleged “outrageous” behavior. Among other allegations, Sterling claims that Penn Med knew of a sexual relationship between Sterling’s supervisor and another employee and knew that the supervisor was “ignoring plaintiff’s request to merely have a fair and peaceful work environment free of racial and sexual discrimination.”
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