Kaiser Fires Woman for Disabilities, She Says
PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser unjustly targets “older” employees for termination, a nurse claims in a federal lawsuit.
Judy Lamb began working for Kaiser in 1985 as a licensed practical nurse and patient access specialist. Lamb, 62, says she was fired in June 2013 because of physical and mental impairments, including degenerative osteoarthritis in her knee and hip, diabetes, hypertension, severe obesity and depression.
She says Kaiser has a policy of targeting “older” employees, especially ones with disabilities, for termination and even attempts to exacerbate working conditions to further this agenda.
“While employed … plaintiff observed defendant subjecting certain employees to more stringent scrutiny than others and targeting those employees for termination,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiff observed that employees who were older, had disabilities, or used medical leave under state and federal law were among those that were most heavily targeted by defendant to be subject to this stricter level of scrutiny.”
In Lamb’s case, a supervisor at one of Kaiser’s hospitals intentionally refused her specific request for accommodations, resulting in an injury.
“During plaintiff’s employment … she was denied accommodation … and was required to use the stairs instead of the available elevator, was required to stand for excessive periods of time and was precluded from sitting down during the work day,” according to the complaint.
Lamb says she injured her knee as a result and was forced to use medical leave while being treated, which caused supervisors to ramp up their harassment upon her return, unjustly writing her up for bogus errors. She was ultimately fired on June 20, 2013.
“The alleged errors, which defendant used to terminate plaintiff’s employment, were a pretext for discrimination and retaliation,” the complaint states. “Other employees who were not members of plaintiff’s protected class were not disciplined or terminated for engaging in the same or similar errors or conduct.”
Lamb sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Northwest for violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as sex and age discrimination and retaliation. She wants the court to order her reinstatement and lost wages, or award her past and future lost wages and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
The plaintiff is represented by Stephen Brischetto, in Portland.