Wrongly Demoted, Falsely Accused and Fired, Nurse Claims
10-13-2014 20:41:00

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser wrongly demoted a nurse and falsely accused her of drug abuse, she claims in an Orange County Court discrimination lawsuit.

     Peggy Schimonitz sued Kaiser Permanente of Southern California for age discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation, harassment, termination in violation of public policy, disability discrimination and race/national origin discrimination.
     According to her 20-page lawsuit, Schimonitz worked at Kaiser for more than 28 years, most of that time as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, until she was demoted to a Medical Assistant position and fired two months later.
     Schimonitz claims she was falsely accused of attending a doctor’s appointment during working hours when she had not done so, and of using prescription drugs without a prescription. According to her complaint, the true reason for her firing was her age, race and disability.
     Schimonitz is 57 years old, white, and non-Spanish-speaking, she says. Younger, non-white LVNs and LVNs who spoke Spanish were not demoted or fired during the same time period when she was, she says.
     “Plaintiff is a member of a protected class in that she was born in America, is Caucasian, and cannot speak Spanish. Plaintiff’s primary language is English and her only language,” it continues.
     “Plaintiff was told that since she could not speak Spanish, that her job opportunities were not good and that she should learn to speak Spanish or she would not be promoted or may lose her job,” according to the complaint.
     Additionally, Schimonitz has disabilities and medical conditions related to her ocular migraines and back problems, which resulted in medical treatments and pain that required her to take prescription medication for several years up through and including her firing. With the proper accommodation, plaintiff could have continued to work and fulfill her job duties, the complaint states.
     After Schimonitz’s demotion, Kaiser put her on an investigatory suspension "to review circumstances and facts surrounding what they called her unusual behavior and unsatisfactory job performance,” according to the complaint. She was required to take drug testing, which came back positive, according to the complaint. But Schimonitz contends her use of the drugs was legitimate.
     All of plaintiff’s prescription medications were prescribed through Kaiser and Kaiser did not even talk with plaintiff’s prescribing doctor regarding her medications or test results, and did not talk with medical professionals who would support plaintiff’s assertion that the test results for drugs were consistent with the medications she had been prescribed, the complaint states.
     Schimonitz seeks general and compensatory damages, mental and emotional distress damages, punitive damages, interest including prejudgment interest, attorney fees, costs of suit and a jury trial.
She is represented by Eric V. Luedtke of Brea.
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