Scientist Says Kaiser Fired Him Based on His Age
(CN) - Kaiser administrators fired one of its clinical scientists because he is old, disabled and was getting paid too much, he claims in an Orange County Superior Court lawsuit.
James Sipin, 61, began working for Kaiser as a clinical laboratory scientist in 1992, transferring to the Irvine Medical Center in 2008 where he says he received “glowing evaluations” for his work.
He claims he heard rumors that Kaiser has a pattern and practice of firing older workers under false pretenses, but never thought he would became a target himself.
But that’s precisely what happened.
“On one occasion, Mr. Sipin’s supervisor, Cindy Schwartz, told Mr. Sipin that Kaiser gets rid of unwanted workers by putting pressure on them until they quit or do something to get fired,” according to a 13-page complaint. “At the time this comment was made, Mr. Sipin never thought it would apply to his employment.”
Sipin claims that in February 2014 assistant department manager Mary Lou Beaumont made “ageist” and “negative” remarks about the fact he has a child in college and “can’t retire.”
He says that’s when Kaiser administrators began looking for a reason to get rid of him.
In May 2014, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and took time off under the Family Medical Leave Act, but continued working. By August, Schwartz was criticizing his work about a “certain procedure” and insisted that he “perform the procedure in a manner that was contradictory and not supported by the procedure in place.”
“Mr. Sipin complained that the hospital medical staff was knowingly allowed to perform tests contradictory to revised policy and procedure, which could adversely affect the safety of patients at the Irvine Medical Center,” the complaint states. “As a result of Mr. Sipin’s complaints, a new procedure was posted in the lab that mirrored Mr. Sipin’s method.”
Then, in July, he stood up for a co-worker who was suspended for taking a nap at his workstation.
“Mr. Sipin objected to the suspension by submitting an article to his supervisors that he had read in the Los Angeles Times about a recent class action settlement of a case brought by county sanitation department employees who were permitted to nap in their county-issued trucks during rest breaks,” according to the complaint. “As a result of Mr. Sipin’s complaint of the discipline issue to his co-worker, the co-worker was promptly reinstated.”
Sipin’s actions apparently did nothing to endear him to Kaiser administrators who ultimately fired him on unwarranted timecard fraud allegations that acted only as a pretext to fire him, according to the complaint.
He was fired on Oct. 28 and claims that another supervisor, Charles Park, continued to defame him “by degrading his name and professional occupation, and slandering his professional reputation by telling third parties that Mr. Sipin had committed time card fraud.”
Additionally, he claims Kaiser hired a younger, female employee with significantly less experience and “under a newer contract, at a lower cost to Kaiser.”
Sipin sued Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and the Permanente Medical Group for retaliation, discrimination and wrongful termination.
He seeks general, special, exemplary and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Sipin is represented by Patricio Barrera, in Manhattan Beach, Calif.