PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The University of Pennsylvania Hospital fired a radiation therapist for helping the mother of a pediatric cancer patient - an Eagles fan - get in touch with the football team to try to boost the girl's spirits, the fired worker claims in court.
Julianne Anttell sued the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
Anttell says in the lawsuit that the parents of a girl she had treated invited her to see the girl complete her radiation therapy. The girl, "SB," and several of her family were wearing Philadelphia Eagles gear for the girl's last treatment, Anttell says in the complaint.
"SB's mother mentioned how 'great it would be if the Eagles did something for her daughter,'" Anttell says in the lawsuit.
It continues: "Plaintiff agreed and SB's mother asked her to reach out to the Eagles and tell them about her daughter.
"SB's mother provided to plaintiff a link to a Facebook page concerning her daughter and instructed her to pass it along to the Eagles on behalf of her daughter.
"At the instruction of SB's mother and in an attempt to help a child with cancer, plaintiff did so."
Anttell herself then went out on medical leave, and when she returned in December 2013, she says, she was suspended and then fired for "unauthorized disclosure of confidential patient information."
Compounding the pointlessness of her firing, Anttell says, the girl's parents had been contacted before she was fired, "and offered to execute a retroactive written consent to release of information."
And, she says, the information about the girl's illness was already in the public domain, through Facebook.
Anttell appealed her firing without success, and the hospital then fought her claim for unemployment benefits - the hospital lost after a hearing, she says.
She also claims that the hospital interfered with her attempt to find another job, after the hearing which had cleared her.
Finally, she says, her firing "was pretextual and designed to serve UPENN's desire to replace her with a therapist who had a personal relationship with plaintiff's director."
The director is not a party to the case.
Anttell seeks lost wages and punitive damages for wrongful firing, defamation, and tortious interference with prospective business relationship.
She is represented by Harry Kane Jr., of Jenkintown.