Pennsylvania hospital used COVID-19 as pretext to fire pregnant nurse anesthetist, lawsuit claims

A woman who took parental leave from her job as a nurse anesthetist at a Pennsylvania hospital has filed a federal lawsuit alleging her employer used COVID-19 pandemic-related layoffs as a pretext to fire her, according to Law360.

Five things to know:

1. Maria DiMattio filed the lawsuit April 12 in the in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She claims she was fired because of her gender, pregnancy and/or use of parental leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. 

2. Ms. DiMattio said that while working at Penn Highlands Healthcare DuBois (Pa.) hospital in August 2019, she notified her supervisors that she was pregnant and told them she would use the Family Medical Leave Act to take 12 weeks' parental leave, according to Law360. Her leave began March 6, 2020.

3. Ms. DiMattio said she was informed April 15, 2020, that she was among four nurse anesthetists being permanently laid off for pandemic-related reasons, the report states. Ms. DiMattio said the layoffs disproportionately affected female nurse anesthetists, and the four anesthetists let go were more experienced than the male nurse anesthetists who were not laid off.

4. Ms. DiMattio also contends that when she filed a complaint about her firing with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the hospital said she was chosen for a permanent layoff because she had allegedly told them in October 2019 that she was going to take a job in Pittsburgh instead of returning once her leave was over, according to Law360. She denies that she ever indicated that she accepted a job in Pittsburgh.

5. Penn Highlands Healthcare, a six-hospital integrated health system based in Dubois, said it does not comment on pending legal actions. "Our top priority is and always will be our employees, physician partners and our patients," the health system said.

Read more about the lawsuit here


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