Temple University has been sued by a former supervisor in an animal testing laboratory facility after they fired him for complaining about a hostile work environment. He says the workplace was made hellish by immature female coworkers.
According to the complaint, Kevin Darlington, who was 60 years old at the time, was hired in March 2015. His direct supervisory was Lynette Oguntayo; also in his direct chain of command was Dr. Jan Gnadt.
After completing a 180-day probationary period, he was given an “excellent” performance evaluation by Oguntayo, the complaint states. The next month, internal inspections were conducted in two research buildings. The first was supervised by Darlington, the other by a female peer. Although minor infractions were cited in both facilities, only he was reprimanded and berated in front of co-workers by Gnadt, a woman.
He says Gnadt then teamed-up on him with Oguntayo, filing false complaints about his performance. He signed a written warning, but then emailed a written complaint to the human resources department, “complaining of a hostile work environment, profound unprofessionalism, being degraded during senior staff meetings, Ms. Oguntayo being unwilling to accept new ideas for practices and policies, and age and gender-based discrimination.”
In early November, according to the complaint, Darlington presented Oguntayo with a written response to the earlier warning, stating that Temple’s standard operating procedures were not being followed, and that he no longer offered ideas and suggestions for improvement because he was often met with ridicule and hostility. He also stated that Gnadt’s behavior towards him created a hostile work environment.
According to the complaint, the abuse continued despite multiple follow-ups with human resources.
Darlington says he found a photograph that had been taken of him without his knowledge or permission, printed out, the letters “R.I.P.” written on it, and used as a clue in a scavenger hunt by women in the office the previous week.
In February 2016, the written warning was reduced to a verbal warning, according to the complaint. That same day Oguntayo issued him another written warning pertaining to unsigned room logs. He also learned that Oguntayo was trying to trying to glean negative information about him in order to have him terminated. He complained to human resources that he was being singled out with regard to the unsigned room logs warning and provided images of co-workers’ unsigned room logs, including Oguntayo, who were not subject to discipline.
According to the complaint, Darlington was put on a performance improvement plan by Oguntayo. That plan laid out instructions and responsibilities for both Darlington and Temple. One such instruction was for Oguntayo to meet with Darlington weekly over the next two months. Darlington claims she only met with him twice over that period.
Oguntayo finally fired Darlington after falsely accusing him of failing to change expired sign-in cards.
Darlington also claims that during his tenure with Temple he reported incidents of waste and wrongdoing in the labs, including lack of appropriate protocols and labs in violation of the law, codes and regulations.
Darlington now sues his former employer, claiming that “Temple discriminated against [him] on the basis of gender by permitting Dr. Gnadt and Ms. Oguntayo, after multiple, documented complaints, to treat Mr. Darlington’s similarly situated female co-workers preferentially and to create and maintain a gender-hostile work environment by belittling and degrading him, disciplining him unfairly and disparately, and unfairly and disparately terminating his employment.”
“Temple discriminated against [Darlington] on the basis of his age by permitting Dr. Gnadt and Ms. Oguntayo, after multiple documented complaints, to treat Mr. Darlington’s similarly situated younger co-workers preferentially and to create and maintain an age-hostile work environment by belittling and degrading him, disciplining him unfairly and disparately, supplying and allowing a picture of him to be used without his permission, with ‘R.I.P.’ written on it as a reference to advanced age, and unfairly and disparately terminating his employment.”
Darlington further claims that he was wrongfully discharged in retaliation for his reports of waste and wrongdoing in the labs.
Darlington seeks compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief. He is represented by law firm Jacobson Rooks of New Jersey, and filed the action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Temple did not return an email requesting comment.