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Good morning. The labor shortage is distorting yet another market: the buying and selling of companies. Struggling to find the talent to support organic growth, companies are increasingly looking for talent through acquisitions instead, according to a recent survey by the International Business Brokers Association. Mix in the money sloshing through private equity firms, and you have the recipe for a seller's market.
 
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Geisinger hit with ADA lawsuit


In a lawsuit filed last week, a federal agency claims Geisinger Health violated the law in its treatment of employees with disabilities.
  • The Danville-based health system allegedly discriminated against a registered nurse by failing to accommodate a return to work after she took a medical leave for surgery in late 2018, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.
  • The lawsuit does not identify any other alleged victims. Nonetheless, the EEOC claims that the health system's employment policies affected a class of current and former employees who were covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.
  • In a statement emailed by a spokesperson, Geisinger declined to comment on the lawsuit but said it takes "matters like this very seriously."
  • "Geisinger does not discriminate against any person with respect to hiring, benefits, wages, or promotion based on disability or any other classification protected by federal, state, and local laws," the health system said. "We pride ourselves with creating an encouraging work environment for all where we regularly invest in our employees and workforce, which includes providing outstanding benefits like medical and extended leave."

What's the complaint: The EEOC alleges that Geisinger barred the registered nurse, Rosemary Casterline, from coming back to her old job at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. Instead, she was required to apply for other jobs within a certain period if she wanted to keep working.
  • Casterline applied for several jobs but was not hired, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Casterline was fired in March 2019 after being unable to land another job at Geisinger within the stipulated time frame, according to the lawsuit.
  • The EEOC claims Geisinger's treatment of Casterline violated the ADA -- by failing to make reasonable accommodations and denying employment opportunities -- and that others were treated the same way.

What's next: The EEOC is seeking a jury trial and said it is seeking to recover back pay and other damages.
  • The agency also is asking Geisinger to change its policies, practices and programs affecting people with disabilities.
  • The lawsuit followed efforts at reaching an agreement outside of court, according to the EEOC.

The background: Geisinger operates nine hospitals and employs nearly 24,000 people in northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania.
  • The health system formerly owned Holy Spirit Medical Center.
  • It sold the Cumberland County hospital last year to Penn State Health, a regional health system based in Dauphin County that is not part of the EEOC lawsuit.
 


Quick takes



WHO'S BUYING: Fenner Precision Polymers, a parts manufacturer in Manheim Township, Lancaster County. The company has purchased Lumsden Corp., a Lancaster-based manufacturer of conveyor belting and other products for mining, printing, food processing and other industries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Fenner plans to continue operating Lumsford's three brands: Hoyt Wire Cloth, Wiremation Conveyor Belting and Flexx Flow. 
  • "Without question or reservation, this partnership is just the move we envisioned to take our business to the next level," Glenn Farrell, CEO of Lumsden, said in a statement.
  • As the former owner, Farrell will stay on for a year as a consultant, according to Fenner spokesperson Sam Wells.
  • But the rest of the Lumsford management team and the company's 126 employees are staying in their existing roles, Wells added.
  • Lumsden has plants at 10 Abraso St. and 1296 Loop Road in Lancaster.

The background: Fenner has been part of Paris-based Michelin Group since 2018.
  • Fenner has more than 900 employees around the world.
  • Like Lumsden, it sells into a range of industries, including mining, printing and material handling.
  • Michelin, which had sales in 2020 of nearly $23.8 billion, has been looking to expand beyond its signature product, tires.
 


WHAT SOLD: A 372,794 square-foot shopping center along Route 15 north of Selinsgrove. The Monroe Marketplace was sold for $44.8 million to Acadia Realty Trust, an investment firm based in Rye, New York, according to real estate firm JLL, which marketed the property for an undisclosed institutional investor.
  • Like other shopping centers fetching large sums this year, Monroe Marketplace is anchored by a supermarket, in this case a Giant.
  • The center is 99% leased and also includes a Kohl's department store, T.J. Maxx clothing store and a PetSmart, among other retailers.
  • In a press release, Acadia noted that Giant's lease was extended to 2035 in connection with the transaction.
 


WHAT'S MERGING: A trio of regional neurology practices under the umbrella of UPMC. The Pittsburgh-based health system has folded the PinnacleHealth Neurosurgery and Neurosciences Institute, York Neurology Specialists and UPMC Pinnacle Neurosurgery into the UPMC Neurological Institute
  • UPMC picked up the three Central PA practices in 2017 when it bought Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth.
  • York Neurosurgery had been affiliated with the former Memorial Hospital, according to Amber Depew, a UPMC spokesperson. PinnacleHealth bought Memorial and other local hospitals before being swallowed by UPMC.

The background: UPMC's neurology practice in Central PA employs more than 30 doctors and advanced practitioners at locations in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties.

 



WHAT'S BEING INVESTIGATED: A "significant criminal act" that has limited printing abilities for Steinman Communications, the parent company of Lancaster newspaper LNP. The act was disclosed in a note to readers in the Saturday and Sunday issues of LNP. The company has notified law enforcement of the issue, which was discovered on Thursday, according to the note from executive editor Tom Murse.
  • "The specific nature and scope of the crime remain unclear, and no one has been charged," Murse wrote. "But it has dramatically limited our company’s ability to publish complete newspapers, respond to customers and work with advertisers."
  • The newspaper is making access to its website free until the issue is resolved, he added.
 


WHO'S BEING REMEMBERED: John Rigas. He died last week at the age of 96, according to the New York Times.
  • Rigas co-founded cable giant Adelphia Communications in rural Potter County in the early 1950s and oversaw its growth into a national player.
  • The company filed for bankruptcy in 2002 amid an accounting scandal. Rigas went to jail in 2007 and was released in 2016.
  • The company's assets eventually were split between Comcast and Time Warner.

The background: Adelphia was one of several companies felled by accounting scandals in the early 2000s. The most famous was Enron.
  • The scandals led to passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which strengthened financial controls at publicly traded companies.

 
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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

 
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