Blamed for Counterfeit Money, Then Fired, Assistant Says
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser fired a medical assistant based on false allegations and defamed her, she claims in Alameda County Superior Court.
Dawn Spencer sued Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company for wrongful termination, breach of employment agreement, failure to provide rest breaks, defamation, unlawful use of criminal information, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices.
According to Spencer’s lawsuit, she worked as a medical assistant at Kaiser’s Stockton facility.
“Plaintiff had never committed any wrongdoing during her 26 years of dedicated service to Kaiser. In fact, just two weeks before she was ultimately forced to resign, she was given an award for excellent service,” the complaint states.
“On or about Oct. 17, 2014, plaintiff was called into a conference room by Kaiser managers and told that local police department officers were across the street. Plaintiff met with the officers concerning an allegation related to counterfeit money. The officers sided with plaintiff regarding her explanation for the allegation and no criminal charges were ever filed,” the complaint states.
“Despite this, Kaiser persisted with blaming plaintiff for a counterfeit money problem and placed plaintiff on administrative leave,” it continues.
Kaiser threatened to call the U.S. Secret Service but did not follow through, according to the complaint.
“Kaiser even told plaintiff that if she admitted to wrongdoing (even though she had done nothing wrong) she would be placed on a five-year letter agreement and not be terminated. Plaintiff refused Kaiser’s unethical demand,” he complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
“Shortly thereafter Plaintiff was given a letter of termination from Kaiser,” it states.
Spencer claims Kaiser told her that, unless she resigned, Kaiser would prevent her from getting unemployment benefits and would defame her to other prospective employers. Kaiser gave her only 10 minutes to decide, she claims.
“Since Kaiser was threatening to unlawfully deny plaintiff’s unemployment benefits and preclude her from obtaining another job, plaintiff had no choice but to resign immediately under pressure and against her will,” the complaint states.
“Nevertheless, this resignation was completely involuntary and actually constituted a discharge by Kaiser of plaintiff,” it says.
Spencer alleges Kaiser went ahead and defamed her anyway – to prospective employers, other Kaiser staff members and non-Kaiser security guards who worked at the building.
Spencer contends Kaiser did not follow the investigation procedures required by its collective bargaining agreement with her union.
Kaiser also broke laws regarding how criminal information can be used when a conviction has not occurred, Spencer claims.
Dawn Spencer seeks compensatory economic and emotional damages, Labor Code penalties, unpaid wages, costs of suit, attorneys’ fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, punitive damages and waiting time penalties. She is represented by Neville F. Fernandes of Norcal Employment Counsel in San Francisco.