Kaiser Wouldn't Allow Dr. Appointment, Injured Painter Claims
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Kaiser would not let a painter attend a doctor’s appointment for work-related injuries, and then fired him, he claims in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Jose Zuniga sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Inc., Kaiser Permanente Ventures, LLC, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals California Division South, for disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation and wrongful termination. Additionally he sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Family Rights Act.
According to his lawsuit, Jose Zuniga worked on and off for Kaiser as a painter beginning in 1998. His most recent period of continuous employment with Kaiser was from 2010 until his wrongful termination on Aug. 24 2012, according to his complaint.
“In mid-2012, plaintiff was performing his job duties when he was exposed to chemicals resulting in injuries to his face and eyes,” the complaint states. Zuniga reported the injury, was taken to Kaiser’s emergency room, and given a medical leave, it says.
When Zuniga presented his supervisor with his work restrictions after his leave, “defendants refused to honor his work restrictions and informed him that he could not return to work with restrictions and that plaintiff had to be released without work restrictions before he could return to work,” the complaint states.
“Because plaintiff needed to work and was told by defendants that he could not return to work unless he was released without work restrictions, plaintiff returned to his medical provider and asked that he be released to work without work restrictions,” it continues.
“Plaintiff continued to see his medical provider for his injury and continuing limitation on major life activities, including but not limited to his ability to see. Plaintiff was able to perform the essential job duties with reasonable accommodation of his disability,” the complaint says.
“In approximately mid-August 2012, plaintiff requested a reasonable accommodation of a schedule change allowing him to leave approximately thirty minutes early from his shift to permit him to attend a medical appointment for his eye injuries. Defendants refused to grant him the reasonable accommodation,” it state.
On Aug. 24, Kaiser fired Zuniga, “for the pretextual and false reason that they did not have work for him,” Zuniga contends.
Jose Zuniga seeks damages for past and future lost income and benefits, equitable relief including reinstatement, emotional distress damages, costs of suit, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and a jury trial. He is represented by N. Nick Ebrahimian and Jordan D. Bello of Lavi & Ebrahimian in Beverly Hills.