The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 18, 2013

2 more ex-employees file suit against MCAR

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER COUNTY — MCAR Inc., which was hit with three discrimination suits in 2010, recently has been served with two more.

Vickie L. Hando, 3662 Timber Lane, Hermitage, filed suit Sept. 17 alleging gender and disability discrimination and retaliation over her firing on Oct. 19, 2012, and Cassandra Murray, 20 Chestnut St., Wheatland, filed a complaint Nov. 1 charging MCAR with pregnancy discrimination.

As the Murray suit names Hando as having a role in her employment situation with MCAR, MCAR could be in the awkward situation of calling  Hando as a witness to defend itself against Murray’s suit.

MCAR, which provides services to adults with disabilities, on Friday filed a motion to dismiss part of Hando’s suit and has yet to respond to Murray’s.

Hando, represented by Samuel J. Cordes & Associates, Pittsburgh, said she worked for MCAR for nearly seven years, lastly as human resources assistant.

She said she sought a promotion to HR specialist, but MCAR officials did not grant her an interview, renamed the position to chief people officer and hired a man she claimed had no experience, Brian Biggins.

She said she trained Biggins and performed his job until he was trained.

Hando was suspended a week before she was fired after sending an e-mail to two employees on medical leave telling them to inform her when they returned to work. If the employees told Biggins, “he won’t let me know and then your sick and vacation time will be messed up.”

The suspension caused a relapse in a “medical/psychological condition” and she requested medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but she was fired later in the day, she said.

MCAR, of 850 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage, accused her of accessing “confidential employee-related information” on the MCAR computer system on Oct. 14, 2012, “while not in the course of performing MCAR related work,” she said.

She said she did about 45 minutes of work that day, a Sunday, and regularly worked during non-business hours “to catch up on work.”

In its motion to dismiss, MCAR said it fired Hando “for cause.”

MCAR, represented by Walsh, Barnes, Collis, Gill & Zumpella, Pittsburgh, said the complaint is inadequate for not specifying her medical condition, nor any work limitation that it caused. It asks for dismissal of one of three counts, or a “more definitive statement” about those issues.

Murray, 24, represented by Tedd C. Nesbit of Hermitage, said she worked at MCAR about seven months in 2012, but did not specify her position.

She said she became pregnant and her doctor placed work restrictions on her, that she be allowed to lift no more than 30 pounds.

Hando told Murray she would have to be removed from the work schedule because of the restriction, Murray said. Biggins told Murray he did not have to make accommodations because of her pregnancy, and that she would not be scheduled to work unless she “ignored” the doctor’s restrictions, she said.

Murray said she had “no viable option other than to cease her employment with them,” alleging that MCAR “constructively discharged” her.

MCAR reached settlements in the three previous cases, the details of which were not publicly disclosed.