On Monday in the District of Vermont, an individual filed a complaint against her former employer, VitalCore Health Strategies LLC, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated from her position in retaliation and because of her age.
The plaintiff, a mental and behavioral health professional, began working as a mental health clinician for Centurion Managed Care, which, at the time, was contracted with Vermont’s Department of Corrections to provide health services at state correctional facilities, in May 2020. Two months later, VitalCore took over the contract, hiring the plaintiff in the same position that she held at Centurion, plus two other female clinicians in the same position; however, the plaintiff said she was treated differently from her counterparts.
“Soon into plaintiff’s employment, VitalCore’s Northwest Site Supervisor (at the State’s St. Albans facility), Amy Kelley, demonstrated obvious favoritism toward the other two clinicians and disdain toward the plaintiff,” the complaint alleged.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that Kelley told her she “didn’t matter” as much as one of her counterparts, who was hired five weeks before the plaintiff; that Kelley did not permit her to attend staff meetings, using COVID-19 protocols as an alleged excuse; that Kelley conversed with the plaintiff’s counterparts while ignoring the plaintiff; and that she gratuitously criticized and yelled at the plaintiff several times, allegedly not lodging the same criticisms at the other clinicians for “nearly identical” conduct.
The plaintiff also claimed that Kelley subjected her to harsh working conditions, demanding that she remain in her “poorly ventilated office with all halogen lighting fully electrified” throughout the summer months.
“The result was that the plaintiff was forced to work in the extreme heat while Kelley permitted the other two clinicians to turn their lights off,” according to the complaint.
Another alleged incident involved Kelley reprimanding the plaintiff for not having a radio in her office while meeting with an inmate and subsequently chastising her for what she was wearing, claiming the plaintiff was in violation of dress code policies; after the incident, the plaintiff said VitalCore’s clinical supervisor confirmed there was no dress code violation.
However, according to the plaintiff, she received a written warning Oct. 14, 2020, that alleged three violations: “Dress code,” “Not Adhering to all security policy and procedures,” and “Not adhering to all COVID protocols,” threatening to terminate the plaintiff if she did not “resolve” the purported wrongdoings.
Despite meeting with management to discuss Kelley’s alleged conduct against the plaintiff and the managers acknowledging that Kelley’s actions constituted “a clear case of bullying,” Kelley called security Oct. 28, 2020, to have the plaintiff removed from her office, calling the plaintiff a “security risk,” the complaint said.
The plaintiff argued that Kelley’s actions against her constituted age discrimination because the only difference among her and her clinician counterparts was her older age, calling any other asserted reason by the defendant “a mere pretext for age discrimination.” Further, because she was terminated just after bringing her concerns about Kelley to management, her employer retaliated against her, the plaintiff alleged.
The plaintiff is requesting judgment against the defendant and monetary damages that include lost compensation and benefits, among other relief.
Watts Law Firm P.C. is representing the plaintiff.