Disabled Nurse Manager Claims Kaiser Refused Accommodations
5-29-2020 12:14:00

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Lured into accepting a position by false promises that support personnel would be provided, an overworked and disabled nurse manager was forced out in lieu of providing accommodations, according to her complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Helen Kersey sued Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Valerie McPherson for employment based disability discrimination, retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate, harassment, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the California Business & Professions Code.

According to the action, Kaiser defendants hired plaintiff nurse in June 2018 as an interim administrator, then promoted her to Director of Nursing for the Maternity Department in Kaiser’s Woodland Hills facility three months later in September of that year. 

In her suit, Kersey claims that she took the position “with the understanding that Kaiser would hire at least two managers who would report to her and that would interface with the nursing staff and would be supervising the nursing staff.”

The two nursing managers were not hired, and the strain of working three jobs without the promised support worsened Kersey’s underlying conditions of stress, anxiety and depression, the suit states. Nevertheless, Kersey “received good performance results.”

Defendant McPherson, the chief nurse executive, reportedly began to verbally harass Kersey, telling her “you are sick, there’s something wrong with you,” and “no one likes you,” and telling Kersey she needed to be on antidepressants, and that nobody wanted her there at work. 

Kersey, in her action, alleges that she had “repeatedly complained to Kaiser and to her own manager, McPherson, the chief nurse executive, that they were understaffed and that she needed help because she was doing all the management work and interfacing with the nursing staff without the support of the two managers that Kaiser was supposed to have to help her,” and that she had informed Kaiser and McPherson that she had underlying conditions that were being negatively impacted by the workload and lack of support.

However Kaiser continued to delay hiring the nurse managers, and when one was finally brought on board, “that person then quickly went on an extended medical leave,” the complaint states.

Instead of providing an interactive process or accommodations for Kersey’s disability, the defendants continued to harass, taunt and retaliate against her by making up false performance problems, such as claiming that the nurses disliked her, and then they forced her to go on leave.

Kersey seeks general, special and statutory damages, restitution, penalties and punitive/exemplary damages, injunctive relief, interest, and legal costs and fees.

The plaintiff is represented by Giacomo Gallai and Nicholas T. Hua of Hua Gallai & Gonzales, LLP in Beverly Hills, California.