Kaiser Fired IT Specialist Based on Race, He Says
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CN) - A black IT specialist quit his job in Georgia to work for Kaiser, only to be fired without explanation within weeks of his arrival, he claims in a Los Angeles County Court complaint.
Jerry Means, 53, has 20 years experience working as an information technology (IT) manager. He began working for Kaiser’s IBM-contracted IT facility in 2001, but resigned on good terms in 2008 to take a job at FiServe in Johns Creek, Ga., where he made over $100,000 per year.
He says Kaiser called him in July 2013, ultimately luring him back to the facility in California by offering him over $165,000 per year, plus benefits. Means, who lived apart from his family while in Georgia, took the job and was back working in Los Angeles by Aug. 12.
“Plaintiff … was thrilled at the opportunity to return to his ‘old job,’ having been completely familiar and experienced with the same work,” according to the 42-page complaint. “In addition, plaintiff was thrilled to be back in Los Angeles to be with his children and family.”
About a month later, however, the staffing agency that mediated the hire with Kaiser notified Means that, “a Kaiser Vice-President ordered the termination and physical removal of plaintiff from the worksite immediately, and without notice or explanation.”
Things did not seem right from the start, according to means who says he was not given the proper resources to work, much less tasks to complete.
“When plaintiff arrived at the Kaiser facility, where he reported to Kaiser/IBM Manager Jason Roth, but was not given the customary work tools as provided to other employees in the same department, doing the same work, including a desk nor a laptop to work,” the complaint states.
Means says he did not receive an ID badge until the day before he was fired and was never actually given a formal “job” to do, but told to “watch” other employees “who were white and younger than plaintiff.”
He added that he never received an explanation and can only assume he was fired based on discrimination.
“Defendants … engaged in discrimination, fraudulent conduct, and interference with the contractual rights of plaintiff, and did so with ill will and scorn and without any legitimate business purpose … to defame, humiliate, beat down plaintiff due to his protected class as an African-American [man] over the age of 40,” according to the complaint.
The staffing agency and IBM promised to get him another job, but Means says has yet to hear from either company.
“It was clear then that the defendants had induced plaintiff to leave his former position in Georgia only to breach their agreements with him, to violate discrimination laws and to illegally fire him without cause or explanation,” the complaint states.
Means sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Inc.; Kaiser Permanente, Inc.; CDI Corporation; International Business Machines (IBM), Inc.; and Laz Garcia and Jason Roth.
Means bases his lawsuit on 19 separate claims, including wrongful termination, unlawful business practices, slander and libel, as well as age and race discrimination, retaliation and harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. He seeks general and special damages and the court to issue an injunction ordering “defendants to disgorge the ill-gotten gains obtained by engaging in … unlawful business practices and to provide restitution to all persons who have suffered damages or injury as a result of these unlawful business practices.”
Means is represented by Rita M. Morales, in Manhattan Beach, Calif.