Kaiser Manager Claims He Was Fired for Questioning Ageism
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (CN) - When a manager returned from disability leave, he was fired on a pretext and his reputation was being ruined, because he protested that older workers were being let go en masse, he claims in a San Bernardino County Court lawsuit.
The manager says in his legal complaint that, "the work environment became so hostile after [his boss] became the Chief Administrative Officer, that several employees of the Kaiser defendants committed suicide, ... including two physicians, one chief of anesthesiology, an OB/GYN, MD, and a security guard."
Michael Krause sued Kaiser Foundation Hospital; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc; The Permanente Medical Group Inc; and his supervisor Annie Russell.
Krause, a 29-year employee, was transferred from Ontario to Fontana, to open the new facility, and then four months later he underwent major reconstructive foot surgery, the complaint states.
Kaiser approved the 8 weeks off of work the doctor ordered post-surgery, but the Chief Administrative Officer, Annie Russell, immediately and continually demanded he come into work for meetings and then to interview replacements for the workers she was letting go, according to the complaint.
Russell made Krause have his doctor change his leave from 8 weeks, to "light duty," so he could be at work.
Krause was in excruciating pain, with pins sticking out of his toes, during the meetings, he claims.
Krause has pain in his foot even up to the time of the filing of the complaint, which he attributes to work he was forced to do, including a 14-hour day, less than a week after his surgery, in which Russell required him to go around the hospital announcing the upcoming staff changes, according to the complaint.
Russell claimed she was firing all Krause's subordinate managers in Ontario because they were "incompetent," but Krause had heard her make ageist comments and derogatory remarks against the older, more experienced employees, he claims.
Russell also wanted a disabled employee not to work for Kaiser, stating, "we will not have managers on scooters working here." Krause abandoned use of his scooter early, in response, he says.
She also would change the older workers' schedules to try to make them quit, Krause claims.
She changed Krause's work schedule.
Next, according to the complaint, Krause was invited to a Christmas party, and afterward told that he was being suspended due to allegations of sexual harassment that supposedly took place at the party. He was given no other information and ordered to leave immediately and not to be near the workplace or talk to the employees during his suspension.
During and after the suspension meeting the human resources director and Russell defamed Krause "in a manner that degraded his name and professional occupation, and slandered his professional reputation," the complaint states.
Finally, he was called into a meeting where Russell told him he was being fired, but told him to write a resignation letter or Kaiser would tell prospective employers about the sexual misconduct allegations, he claims.
Krause believes that there was no true investigation of the harassment allegations, and that he was fired based on discriminatory and retaliatory motives, according to the complaint.
Krause sues for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodations or participate in the interactive process, retaliation, hostile work environment, violations of the California Family Rights Act, and defamation.
He seeks damages, to include loss of earnings and benefits, compensation for damage to his reputation and failure to properly advance his career. He also seeks punitive damages and damages for emotional distress.
Krause requests a jury trial, and is represented by Patricio T.D. Barrera of Manhattan Beach.