Kaiser Fired Lab Tech for Taking Medical Leave, She Claims
10-22-2014 22:47:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser fired a lab technician for taking medical leave when she had post-surgery complications, she claims in a Sacramento County Superior Court disability discrimination lawsuit.

     Elisa Quintero sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, The Permanente Medical Group and Silvan Sung, her former supervisor, for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to make reasonable accommodations and wrongful termination.
     “Plaintiff was a loyal long-term employee with defendant Kaiser and received numerous praises and accolades from supervisors and during her annual performance evaluations,” Quintero’s complaint states.
     Quintero had worked as a Lab Assistant II for over 10 years before having gastric bypass surgery in March 2012, according to the complaint. She took a medical leave of absence that was originally expected to be four to six weeks.
     “However, before she could return to work, plaintiff developed serious complications from the surgery, including pancreatitis and a hernia,” the complaint states.
     Her medical leave was extended through June, but her complications continued even after she returned to work, according to the complaint.
     “These complications caused her to miss work on several occasions. Each time plaintiff was absent or tardy, she provided notes from her medical providers. Defendant Kaiser ignored plaintiff’s medical notes and listed each instance as a ‘no call no show,’” the complaint states.
     “During one of plaintiff’s medical absences, her symptoms were so severe that she was hospitalized. While in the hospital, plaintiff attempted to call Kaiser to report that she would miss work. A technician named Sandy answered the phone. Sandy questioned plaintiff about missing work and whether plaintiff was truly in the hospital. During this conversation, Sandy harassed plaintiff about her medical condition and made it difficult for her to call in sick to work,” it continues.
     Quintero says Kaiser “began escalating discipline of plaintiff under the pretext of attendance problems,” in December, gave her a “last chance agreement” and suspended her for one day.
     The following month, Quinteros’ supervisor Silvan Sung falsely accused her of substance abuse and made her take a drug test, which she passed, according to the complaint. “When asked about the false drug accusations, defendant Sung was evasive and could not provide any evidence of wrongdoing by plaintiff,” the complaint states.
     In March, a year after her surgery, Quintero became so ill she had to pull off the road on her way to work, she says. “This incident was a result of physical disability. However, when she arrived to work she was harassed and recorded as tardy,” her complaint states.
     Quintero filed a disability insurance claim in June 2013 and was fired July 2, her complaint says.
     Elisa Quintero seeks general, special, consequential and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, costs of litigation, pre- and post-judgment interest and injunctive relief. She is represented by Karen Asplund and Mark P. Velez of the Velez Law Firm in Rocklin.