Fired Care Coordinator Alleges Discrimination
4-10-2015 21:42:00

     PORTAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser fired a Care Coordinator because of her age and foot condition, she claims in U.S. District Court, Oregon District, Portland Division.

     Margaret J. Wilson sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, an Oregon corporation dba Kaiser Permanente for age and disability discrimination and Americans with Disabilities Act violations.
     According to Wilson’s lawsuit, she had consistently good performance reviews until 2013, when a supervisor changed the deadline of an online training, did not effectively communicate the change, gave her a heavier workload and less comprehensive training than her peers, cut her hours and put her on probation. Ultimately Kaiser fired Wilson at the age of 60, replacing her with someone younger, according to the complaint.
     Wilson contends this happened because of her age and her plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition.
     According to a website published by the National Institutes of Health, plantar fasciitis is a swelling or inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes.
     Wilson’s complaint says she began having plantar fasciitis symptoms in 2012 and told some of her colleagues that it was painful. She told her supervisor in mid-2013, shortly after a move to a new building, and said that the pain was interfering with her work, but the supervisor did not begin an interactive process, Wilson claims.
     During that same summer, Wilson was given a July 8 deadline to complete some online training, she claims.
     “Plaintiff was required to carry a full case load at the St. Vincent location while completing her online trainings. In contrast, at least three other employees did not have any caseload during the time required to complete the online trainings,” (Pg. 3, No. 14) the complaint states.
     Wilson says technical issues related to the move caused her to miss a July 19 e-mail from her supervisor, telling her the deadline for the online training had been moved to July 27. She got the e-mail July 28, the day after the new deadline, according to the complaint. Wilson contends her supervisor did not discuss the July 19 e-mail with her until July 27 or 28, and informed her on or around July 8 that she had been put on both a Level 1 Disciplinary Action and a Level 2 Disciplinary Action.
     Wilson’s supervisor said that unspecified physicians had expressed concerns about Wilson’s ability to carry a full caseload, according to the complaint. 
“Plaintiff spoke to all physicians and not one physician stated any concern,” the complaint states.
     Wilson claims this supervisor also “repeatedly made remarks about plaintiff’s ability to keep up with younger ‘energetic’ coworkers,” that she “questioned plaintiff’s ability to learn new skills,” and that she “pressured plaintiff to quit her position because of her age and disability, such as asking her ‘are you sure you want to keep doing this?’"
     Wilson also claims the supervisor reduced her hours from 80 per pay period to 56 per pay period, while requiring her to maintain a full case load.
     When the supervisor assigned Wilson a mentor, the mentor reported that Wilson “was ‘performing satisfactorily given the high and heavy caseload,’ that she was ‘well-versed and knowledgeable about her role,’ that her assessments were ‘thorough, appropriate, and reflected well by her concise documentation,’ and that she ‘communicates well with both family members and the health care team,’” according to the complaint.
     Then in February 2014, Wilson’s supervisor and her supervisor’s supervisor, “met with plaintiff to place her on leave and told her that she would not be allowed to continue working at her current position because it was not a ‘good match.’ Defendant allowed plaintiff time to look for another position within the Kaiser system,” and then fired her in June, the complaint states.
     Margaret Wilson seeks declaratory relief, reinstatement, and economic damages including $155,095 in lost wages, liquidated damages in an amount equal to her economic damages, noneconomic damages of $250,000, interest and a jury trial. She is represented by Thomas K. Doyle, Talia Y. Stoessel and Richard B. Myers of Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan in Portland.