IT Worker Alleges Discrimination
MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser and a staffing agency discriminated against a Tagalog-speaking, disabled IT worker, he claims in a Contra Costa County Superior Court pro se lawsuit.
Edgar Deguzman sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kforce Flexible Solutions, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, and Thomas Fry, alleging race, disability and age discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Deguzman is an IT professional with over 10 years of experience and “at least a dozen certificates, including three specialist certificates,” his complaint states.
Kforce, a placement agency specializing in IT professionals, placed Deguzman in a one-year contract position at Kaiser’s Antioch, Calif. facility starting in Dec. 2014, according to the complaint.
“However, when he was hired, he was paid substantially less than Caucasians with similar work experience performing similar job duties. Both Kforce and Kaiser refused to pay him a fair wage. He was paid about $18 per hour instead of closer to $25 per hour,” the complaint states.
The complaint does not state Deguzman’s ethnicity, but says his native language is Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. His Kaiser supervisor, Thomas Fry, told him not to speak Tagalog at work, according to the complaint.
Deguzman claims he learned his job quickly, and that Fry complimented him for learning in only two days what most people needed three days to learn.
“However, the day after Fry complimented Mr. Deguzman in person (Deguzman’s third day on the job), Fry spoke negatively and dishonestly about him to others. On or around Dec. 15, 2014, Mr. Deguzman overheard Fry talking about him on the phone. Fry mentioned Mr. Deguzman’s name several times during the conversation, and he dishonestly stated that Mr. Deguzman was learning too slowly and needed to be watched very carefully. Fry also inaccurately described Mr. Deguzman as ‘raw.’ Fry was making false statements about Mr. Deguzman, and was giving the impression to the listener that Mr. Deguzman was less intelligent, less experienced, mistake prone, and not deserving of trust and being relied-upon. Fry was demeaning Mr. Deguzman as a capable professional and negating his true skills and abilities by making patently false statements and presenting them as true facts,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
About five days later, Deguzman called in sick with a migraine headache, according to the complaint.
“When Mr. Deguzman has migraine headaches, he is unable to perform many of his regular life functions. He has difficulty with light, his head is in tremendous pain, he is not comfortable speaking, it is unsafe for him to drive, and he typically needs to take medication and/or rest until the migraine headache subsides,” the complaint states.
The next day, a representative of Kforce called to tell him Kaiser had fired him, according to the complaint. She suggested Deguzman’s decision to take a sick day early in his assignment may have been a factor influencing Kaiser’s decision, according to the complaint.
Kaiser, on the other hand, said the reason was that Deguzman was not learning quickly enough, although they gave the job to a younger, white worker who did not learn as quickly as Deguzman or have the certifications and experience Deguzman had, according to the complaint.
Deguzman seeks general, special damages, exemplary and punitive damages, interest, attorney’s fees, costs of suit and a jury trial.