Woman Says Kaiser Fired Her for Caring for Sick Husband
8-18-2014 23:59:00

(CN) - Kaiser staff aimed to make a woman’s life a “living hell” because she took time off from work to care for her dying husband, she alleges in an Orange County Superior Court Complaint.

Gabriella Neale was hired by Kaiser as a medical assistant in 1999 and obtained her licensed vocational nursing (LVN) license in 2010. She was eventually transferred to an Orange County facility in Anaheim, Calif., and then to Kaiser’s Euclid Psychiatry facility, where she worked until she was fired in September 2013.
In 2004, Neale’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. In 2011 and 2012, she was forced to take leave from work to care for him. As of May 2012 she was forced to take off three months. Prior to leaving, Neale's supervisor David Caplin told her, “when you come back, we need to have a serious talk.”
She was also told by another supervisor, Carol Comyns, that, “you took the job knowing your husband had cancer,” and “how dare you go to school and take care of your husband,” and “I know you were out on Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but you were really just going to school.”
Neale says when she came back, she became the target of retaliation and was assigned to a different facility, was limited to observing only and “placed on suspension for false and pretextual reasons,” she claims.
She says her office was moved to a storage closet, and she was grilled for complaining to Human Resources about her treatment and discriminated against by Comyns and others for being Hispanic.
Comyns constantly made racial remarks, including telling Neale she should “take English as a second language classes because she was a ‘dumb Hispanic,’” and that “you don’t look Hispanic, you are too light to be Hispanic,” that they were “going to make her life a living hell,” according to the complaint.
Neale sued Kaiser Foundation health Plan Inc., Kaiser Permanente medical Group, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and SoCal Permanente Medical Group.
She says she is entitled to protections under the FMLA “because she was on a California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave due to the cancer of her husband and is of Mexican/Hispanic nation origin or race,” according to the complaint.
Neale is suing for racial harassment and retaliation. She seeks lost employment income and benefits, general and punitive damages, and medical expenses.
The plaintiff is represented by Timothy Sottile, Michael Baltaxe, Jeremy Scherwin and Brenda Valle of Sottile and Baltaxe, in Westlake Village, Calif.