$1M Sought in Wrongful Termination Claim
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser owes a woman $1 million for discrimination, retaliation and her eventual termination, she claims in a complaint filed in Los Angeles’ Central District Superior Court.
Adela Alvarez began working as a kitchen worker in Kaiser’s Food Services Department in September 2004. In 2009, she claims she began to experience sexual harassment at the hands of fellow employees who “would grope … grab her breasts, and slap [her] buttocks,” according to the complaint.
Sergio Ocampo was one of the worst offenders, often times showing up at work drunk, according to the complaint.
Alvarez says Kaiser management, which includes supervisor Herman Guzman and director Denis Doe, knew about Ocampo and his harassment, but did nothing to stop it. Another co-worker, Jorge Ramirez, would watch the harassment and “laugh,” according to the complaint.
“Ocampo’s harassment was continuous, extremely degrading and unrelenting and created a hostile work environment,” the complaint states.
Alvarez says she made numerous complaints to defendant Doe, who “told her she was crazy.”
In retaliation for the complaints, Doe and Ocampo began to assign her more work. In 2010, Alvarez suffered a work-related injury and went on disability leave. She returned to work in January 2011, but was restricted from lifting more than 30 pounds or pushing more than 50 pounds, which prevented her from performing her normal duties, included pushing heavy carts.
Alvarez said she could have easily performed other work in the same department, but was not reinstated by her supervisors who refused to accommodate her restrictions. Guzman, in particular, often refused to take back injured workers, according to the complaint.
She was ultimately fired in December 2013, Kaiser discontinuing her health care benefits. Losing her job has caused Alvarez “severe and profound pain and emotional distress, anxiety, depression, headaches, tension and other physical ailments, as well as medical expenses, expenses for psychological counseling and treatment, and past and future lost wages and benefits,” the complaint states.
She alleges the acts “were carried out by managerial employees acting in a deliberate, cold, callous, cruel and intentional manner, in conscious disregard of [her] rights and in order to injure and damage her,” according to the complaint.
Alvarez is suing for discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. She seeks $1 million for general and punitive damages, past and future lost wages, bonuses, commissions and benefits.
The plaintiff is represented by Ramin Younessi of Los Angeles.