Disabled Employee Claims She Was Forced to Resign
SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Kaiser forced out an employee who has cancer and fibromyalgia instead of allowing her to reduce her hours to accommodate her health needs, according to her lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
M. K. sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, doing business as Kaiser Permanente Medical Center-Santa Clara, for employment disability discrimination and retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, failure to accommodate or engage in the interactive process, age discrimination and wrongful constructive termination in violation of public policy.
M. K. says she was hired by defendant Kaiser in May 2008. She has thyroid cancer and fibromyalgia that require ongoing treatment, according to her action.
Around October 2017, M. K. says she asked Kaiser to reduce her work hours from 40 hours a week to 32 hours a week to accommodate her disabilities. The request was granted, but only for three months, the suit states.
In January 2018, she was forced to take leave until she could return to work without accommodations, according to the action, and in June 2018, Kaiser cut some of her benefits, then two months later denied her pension.
In October 2018, Kaiser cut all of her benefits, “including the health insurance that she desperately needed as a disabled person suffering from cancer,” the action alleges.
M. K. says she contacted Kaiser many times over the past year requesting to return to work with the 32 hour accommodation, but she was “offered demotions, for less pay which were located in areas that were very far from plaintiff’s position in Santa Clara, which would have required at least a hundred mile commute,” the complaint claims.
Kaiser did not engage in a good faith interactive process and did not provide her with reasonable accommodations, according to the action. M. K. says she was forced to resign on March 14, 2019, the day she filed suit.
M. K. also claims that Kaiser discriminated against her due to her age, and that by forcing her out, she was denied her pension and her “opportunity to receive a ‘lifetime health insurance,’” which is a benefit bestowed on employees who work for Kaiser for at least 15 years, the suit states.
M. K. seeks compensatory, special and general damages, as well as unpaid wages, penalties, interest and legal costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Jeremy Levy of Abramson Labor Group in Los Angeles, California.