Main Line’s Harcum College Sued for Age Discrimination

A 61-year-old claims she was passed over for a promotion in favor of a younger worker, then fired because of her age.

(Photo from Harcum College LinkedIn page.

(Photo from Harcum College LinkedIn page.

A former employee is suing Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. for age discrimination.

Susan Friedland, 61, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on December 21st, saying that the two-year college violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by “passing her over for a promotion in favor of a significantly-younger individual who did not meet the minimum requirements for the position, and by terminating her employment because of her age.”

Friedland began working at Harcum in February of 2008, serving as director of foundations and grants — receiving positive performance reviews, and no discipline, according to her complaint.

She hoped to get the job of assistant vice president of academic affairs. Originally, Friedland said her task was to interview “a handful of candidates and submit her recommendations for the job to the vice president of academic affairs.” After “several months” passed without a choice being made, Friedland asked several senior members of the college if she could apply for the position herself, the complaint said.

“Despite her repeated requests to be considered for the position, as well as her over 12 years of experience in writing educational grant proposals, Plaintiff was never even granted an interview for the job,” the complaint said.

The new hire was “a substantially younger woman” who Freidland believes was in her early 30s and “did not even meet the minimum qualifications for the position in question, having no applicable work experience (including, but not limited to, experience working in higher education or with grant-writing) and no graduate or other high educational degree,” the court documents said.

Friedland also claims she missed more than a week of work to take care of her ailing 91-year-old father — but that should have been covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Days after returning to work, she was “discharged because of her age” and was “replaced by a substantially-younger woman (aged in her 30s),” the complaint said. She also said she was “subjected to different standards of performance evaluation and discipline than younger, similarly-situated coworkers.”

In the aftermath of her termination, Friedland said she’s struggled to obtain other employment. She’s suing for back pay, front pay, loss of health and retirement benefits, raises and bonuses adding up to no less than $150,000.

Friedland also filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A Harcum College spokesperson declined to comment. Michael Murphy, an attorney for Friedland, declined to comment, saying that he has a policy against commenting on pending litigation in the media.

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