'Perceived Disability' Gets Tech Fired, She Says
FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser fired a woman based on a “perceived disability,” she claims in a Superior Court complaint.
Kaiser hired Mary Jane Alvernaz as a radiology technician in February 2004. In 2008, she injured her cervical spine at work, leading to corrective surgery and subsequent treatment by the company’s workers compensation physicians.
On Jan. 13, 2011, Kaiser’s agreed medical examiner, Dr. James Strait, cleared her for work in her usual position. However, in July 2013, Strait, based on “several supplemental reports,” concluded Alvernaz “could not lift 50 pounds and was a qualified injured worker.”
Between 2008 and 2013, Kaiser allowed Alvernaz to work intermittently, but refused to allow her to work following Strait’s updated report.
She was refused work as a CT technician despite the fact she won the bidding process for the position and refused to modify her schedule to work as a radiation technician.
“Ultimately, defendants fired plaintiff on March 11, 2014,” the complaint states. “Defendants claimed plaintiff was terminated ostensibly because of ‘patient mobility,’ meaning defendants believed plaintiff suffered from a disability that prevented her from performing the essential functions of her job, with or without a reasonable modification.”
Kaiser’s own policies require employees to get help when trying to move heavy patients, the complaint notes.
Alvernaz, now a Rhode Island resident, sued The Permanente Medical Group, Inc.; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.; and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process and wrongful termination under the Fair Housing and Employment Act.
She seeks actual, special and general damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees.
Alvernaz is represented by M. Greg Mullanax, in Fresno, Calif.