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Employee files suit against Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Times Leader - 7/30/2019

Jul. 30--SCRANTON -- A Kingston woman filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this year, claiming her employer, the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania, discriminated against her due to her age and her status as a person with a disability.

Sara Pisarz, 53, filed the suit in the federal system in late May through her attorney, Kimberly Borland of the Wilkes-Barre law firm, Borland & Borland.

Attempts to reach the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania for comment on Monday were not immediately successful.

According to the suit, Pisarz has been working with the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania since 2000, being hired as the director of its preschool program. She was also the assistant director of the summer camp there.

In September 2017, Pisarz was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She underwent surgery in April 2018, and the suit says she is regarded as having a disability by her employer.

But, the suit says, she was able to maintain her abilities in spite of her illness.

"At all times material hereto, (Pisarz) performed her duties for (the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania) in a competent, workmanlike, professional and proper manner," the suit reads.

On July 5, 2018, Pisarz received a two-day unpaid disciplinary suspension, after never having received any discipline from the company, she claims.

The suspension ostensibly rose out of a text message Pisarz received on June 29 from a parent of a child at the camp "with regard to a possible concern about another minor camper."

Pisarz claims she took all the necessary steps of informing the camp director of the concern before the opening of the camp, and "the concern was resolved without issue or harm."

However, she claims the discipline came because she did not inform the camp director of the concern on the evening of June 29. She says this was "baseless and inconsistent" with the company's policies.

Instead, she claims the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania was attempting to force her out based on her age and her disability.

In August 2018, the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania discontinued its pre-school program, and Pisarz was informed a few days later that all camp responsibilities were being removed from her job description.

Pisarz was reassigned in August to work as a fundraiser, working specifically to raise funds for the camp and pre-school programs.

"The actual purpose of the elimination of the camp and pre-school responsibilities from (Pisarz's) job description and the direction to her to raise funds for her former functions was to embarrass (her) and to cause her to resign," the suit claims.

She further claims that a request for a "reasonable accommodation" for her disability, to work from home, was denied.

Pisarz's suit claims the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act along with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, in addition to other acts intending to block discrimination.

She is seeking sums the court feels are reasonable, along with court costs and attorney fees.

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386


(c)2019 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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