Aqua America Hit With Discrimination Trifecta Lawsuit

Image Source: Social Innovation Camp

The suit, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges the water services company discriminated against a former employee’s gender, age and protected medical leave.

The woman says she was subjected to a “boys’ club” culture, had her complaints about it ignored, and was fired after taking leave caring for her sick husband and daughter.

Colleen Scattolini began working for Aqua in 1993 as a meter reader. Between then and her firing, she rose up the corporate ladder to the position of National Meter Reading Operations Director as a part of Aqua’s customer service department, according to the complaint.

Almost immediately after securing her promotion to director, Scattolini requested medical leave to care for her sick husband who died shortly thereafter.

“During [her] stint on [leave], she was subjected to continuous insensitive and harassing conduct by [Aqua] which evidenced its dissatisfaction with [her leave] and its purported inconvenience on the company, including, but not limited to, consistently asking [her] about her estimated full-time return to work date, and calling [her] the morning of her husband’s burial to check on the submission of [her] timesheet,” the complaint states.

Upon her return to work, Scattolini says that she was effectively demoted by having her subordinates removed, as well as subjected her to what she considered to be heightened scrutiny. According to the complaint, she took complaints regarding this perceived retaliation to human resources, at which point her boss asked her, “What the fuck are you doing, Colleen, are you trying to get me fired.”

According to the complaint, she continued to complain, taking the issue all the way to the president of human resources, a fellow woman. She says she was told to either leave the company or find another job in another department.

“[The HR president] told [Scattolini] that she was fighting a losing battle, that the company is a boys’ club, and that the company does not like women over the age of 50 or smart women,” the complaint states.

Scattolini says she was eventually told, “you don’t like change” and “you won’t budge form old school to new” before being demoted again.

According to a complaint, a supervisor told her she was a “vivacious woman,” and that he could “make [her] the corporate woman [she] could and should be,” which Scattolini took as both sex and age discrimination and again complained to HR before requesting another leave of absence, this time to care for her sick daughter. She was once again demoted following this request.

She continued to complain before requesting a promotion in 2016, but was denied as she lacked a four-year degree. According to the complaint, the position was filled instead by a “younger, less qualified individual.”

Shortly thereafter Scattolini says she was fired due to an alleged lack of work. According to the complaint, Aqua subsequently posted several open positions on their website, suggesting to her that they were firing her in retaliation for complaining to HR, and not lack of work.

“[Scattolini’s] age, sex and FMLA leave [were] motivating factors in [Aqua’s] discriminatory treatment of [her], including, but not limited to, her demotion, her termination, her failure to be hired, and the hostile work environment to which she was subjected,” the complaint states.

She now sues her former employer on four counts, all discrimination and retaliation related, and demands compensatory and punitive damages, but not reinstatement. She is represented by attorney Stephen G. Console of Console Mattiacci Law LLC. Judge Mark A. Kearney is presiding, and a jury trial was not requested.

Aqua’s director of marketing and communications, Stacey Hajdak, did not return an email requesting comment.

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