A former Mount Nittany Medical Center employee filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the hospital on Tuesday, alleging she lost her job last year to a younger male as a result of age and sex discrimination.
Lois Hassinger, 60, worked for Mount Nittany for more than 25 years, most recently as clinical supervisor of the endoscopy center. Amid a restructuring of management positions and layoffs in May 2020, supervisor positions were reclassified as managers and Hassinger and other existing supervisors were required to apply and interview for management jobs, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania.
Hassinger says she applied for numerous manager positions at the hospital, including in the endoscopy center.
“Plaintiff was well-qualified for the position as she fulfilled most of the requirements listed in the job description, had zero negative performance evaluations, and included several letters of recommendation from Geisinger and Hershey physicians,” attorney Ryan M. Carroll wrote in the complaint.
On June 3, 2020, Hassinger was terminated after she was informed she was not selected for any of the manager positions or offered a staff position. According to the complaint, other employees who had their positions eliminated were allowed to continue working and bid on open positions.
The “substantially younger male” who was hired as endoscopy manager had no prior endoscopy experience, Carroll wrote.
Hassinger alleges that while discussing her termination with other staff members, a doctor involved with the interview process said “out with the old, in with the new.”
In August, according to the complaint, Mount Nittany began advertising with staffing agencies for an endoscopy nurse, a position for which Hassinger says she was qualified and willing to work.
A spokesperson said Mount Nittany Health could not comment on pending litigation.
Hassinger alleges she was fired in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex.
She is seeking reinstatement to her position and pension standing, lost wages and benefits and compensatory and punitive damages.