A Jewish woman in Souderton has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Clayton H. Landis Company, or CHL Systems, a manufacturing and engineering company also in Souderton.
Amy Elsner, the plaintiff, was fired from her position as a document control specialist after a little more than four months, during which her complaint alleges that she was subjected to hurtful and discriminatory comments about her Jewish religion and heritage multiple times.
Elsner, 39, had completed her 90-day probationary period and had already been converted to regular employment.
The final offense resulted in her leaving her office building, at which time she reported the problem to a human-resources representative over the phone.
She then got a call from the human-resources director, who, according to her attorney, terminated her employment.
"The biggest issue for us is obviously the timing of her termination as connected with the complaints," said Julie Uebler, the attorney who is representing Elsner.
She added that CHL has taken the position that Elsner's supervisor had already made the decision that morning to fire her, "but we find that quite a coincidence."
Elsner was let go in January 2008.
Before filing the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the case underwent the required process of "exhausting administrative remedies," according to Uebler, who explained that discrimination complaints must first go through investigations by state or federal agencies.
Uebler said that because of the current economic climate, her client has not yet found permanent employment since her termination, although she has found some part-time positions.
"Having to explain the circumstances of her departure I'm sure is not helping the situation," said Uebler.
Marvin L. Weinberg of Fox Rothschild LLP, who is representing CHL Systems, wrote in an e-mail that "I have no comment except to say that the lawsuit filed by Mrs. Elsner is totally frivolous."
By law, CHL Systems has 20 days to file an answer to the complaint, after which depositions begin.
Uebler said that while she and her client are ready appear before a jury if need be, most cases like this, noted the attorney, are often resolved without going to trial.
Elsner is seeking reinstatement to her position or compensation for past and future losses, as well as recompense for pain and suffering, emotional distress, humiliation and more.
She is also seeking punitive damages and payment for costs related to the case.