Woman Fired by Kaiser Before She Begins Working
By William Dotinga
2-10-2013 12:39:00

(CN) - A woman who passed Kaiser Foundation Hospitals' pre-employment physical tests and received a job offer says Kaiser fired her when it discovered she handle overhead lifting.

Kathryn Smith says that during the employment application process, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals never provided her with a list of minimum physical requirements and it did not occur to her that a prior workplace shoulder injury would pose a problem. After Kaiser offered Smith a job in administrative support, a doctor conducted a pre-employment physical - also without the list of minimum physical requirements.

"Over the course of the exam, Kaiser's doctor reviewed each of plaintiff's responses to Kaiser's pre-examination questionnaire. Plaintiff's response to certain of these questions reflected plaintiff's restriction from overhead lifting, due to a work-related shoulder injury....Plaintiff's worker's compensation physician had placed her on restricted duty for her injury, requiring that she not lift more than 30 pounds and avoid overhead lifting. Plaintiff's restrictions were to be lifted on Feb. 18, 2011, less than one month after she was scheduled to begin working for Kaiser," Smith's complaint states.

The examining physician recommended that Smith inform Kaiser that she required a work-related accommodation and - again without the benefit of a job description listing minimum physical requirements - she did so. Smith says that on her last day at her old job and four days before she was set to begin at Kaiser, Kaiser rescinded the job offer.

According to the complaint, Kaiser declined Smith's offer to visit her worker's comp doctor and get the restriction lifted sooner, stating that she had "misrepresented herself on Kaiser's pre-employment questionnaire."

"The following day, plaintiff sent an email to [Kaiser human resources], summarizing the events from Kaiser's job offer through Kaiser's revocation, again emphasizing that she could perform the responsibilities of the position Kaiser had offered, and asking for the opportunity to review the file of the Kaiser physician who performed the post-offer exam, and offering to provide any further information about her ability to perform the requirements of the administrative specialist job. Kaiser responded only that plaintiff's stated ability to meet the physical requirements of the position was not consistent with plaintiff's current medical restrictions and the health screening process evaluation," Smith says in her complaint.

She adds that Kaiser continued to advertise the same position she'd been hired and fired from - and never amended the job listings to include minimum physical requirements.

Smith is represented by S. Brett Sutton, Susan K. Hatmaker and Jared Hague of the firm Sutton Hatmaker in Fresno, Calif.