Kaiser Discriminates Against Employees Over 40, Woman Says
7-2-2013 22:24:00

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (CN) - Staff at a Kaiser hospital ultimately fired a woman for refusing to take part in discriminatory activities, she claims in Marin County Superior Court.

Anna Vekslina began working as an assistant manager for Kaiser Permanente in 2004. In 2005 she transferred to Kaiser’s San Rafael facility where she was hired as Service Unit Manager in charge of four departments.

Vekslina said in her complaint that she had always received positive work reviews and was praised for her work bringing a new software system online. In 2006, she hired two employees, one of them Louvenia Jackson. Jackson, and another employee, Margaret Peirsol, became targets of age discrimination in 2008, according to the complaint.

Kaiser supervisors, including Lori Kennelly, ordered Vekslina to keep performance records meant for Kaiser as a pretext to terminating the two. She refused, reported the situation to Human Resources and, soon after, began receiving negative work reviews.

“Plaintiff believed that Ms. Kennelly wanted these two employees terminated because they were older, and that Ms. Kennelly wanted to replace them with younger employees. Plaintiff told Ms. Kennelly that she would not engage in such discrimination and instead would attempt to coach the employees and improve their performance,” the complaint states.

Vekslina said in her complaint that she began receiving the negative reviews in 2009, and by 2010 Kennelly was scheduling monthly meetings to discuss concerns about her job performance. In November 2010, she was put on a Performance Improvement Plan.

“Plaintiff believed at the time that the basis for the PIP was either false or made-up, and that the PIP was a continuation of the discrimination and/or retaliation,” the complaint states.

In addition, Kennelly began calling Vekslina multiple times per week to discuss complaints about Jackson and Peirsol, the complaint says.

In January of 2011, Vekslina slipped and fell in a puddle of water in a Kaiser restroom, injuring her knees and back. She was sent to the emergency room where Kennelly showed up and shot “angry glances” at her, according to the complaint.

She also began calling Vekslina multiple times a day while she was at home recovering, and fired her within two weeks of returning to work full-time, the complaint says.

Vekslina is suing for disability and age discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation, failure to accommodate disability, and wrongful termination in violation of Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as violations of California Family Rights Act.

David J. and Raven W. Sarnoff, in San Francisco, represent the plaintiff.