Kaiser Fired Woman After She Complained About Wages, She Says
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Kaiser failed to pay a woman her proper wages and fired her under false pretenses after she complained about it, she claims in a Los Angeles County Superior Court complaint.
Carolyn Medina began working for Kaiser as a health educator in 2000. She educated Kaiser health plan members about nutrition, diabetes prevention, newborn care, weight management and other topics for about 15 years.
In July 2014 she noticed her paycheck was missing wages for evening differential pay and sent an email to supervisor Wendy Sasser about it.
Investigating further, Medina discovered she had not been paid differential pay for over 70 paychecks, prompting her to once again complain to Sasser.
“Ms. Sasser, who was not pleased with plaintiff’s findings, told plaintiff in a stern voice that she would not be entitled to receive the wages that were owed her,” according to a 19-page complaint.
Medina’s findings would set of a chain of harassment and intimidation led by Sasser to force her to either retire or face getting fired under bogus “timecard fraud” allegations.
She says Sasser’s attitude toward her became hostile, that she took away certain classes from her work schedule and that another manager threatened her in a meeting to replace her with a social worker.
“Ms. Sack … threatened that she could find discrepancies in time entries of employees compared to garage swipes,” the complaint states. “After making these threats, Ms. Sack told plaintiff numerous times that if she ‘retired’ she would not have to worry about these issues.”
Medina, 66, says Kaiser wanted her gone because of her wage complaints and because she was only three and a half months away from becoming eligible to receive lifetime medical benefits, which are provided by Kaiser after 15 years of employment.
A debilitating injury in January 2015 only strengthened Kaiser’s resolve to oust her, says Medina who fell at work and struck a wall, sustaining a concussion and injuries to her ankles, knees and back.
Only two days after her return to work, Kaiser supervisors held a meeting with Medina, accusing her of timecard fraud. Kaiser, however, refused to provide her with the evidence, which allegedly includes video footage of Medina coming and going.
Medina became so distraught, she was put on medical leave. Kaiser mailed her a termination notice on May 15, 2015.
“At the time of plaintiff’s termination, she was 66-years-old and three and a half months shy of receiving full medical benefits from Kaiser for life,” according to the complaint. “The logical connection is that plaintiff’s termination was due to her complaints about not being paid her wages properly, her perceived and actual disability, her age, and the fact that she was an older employee.”
Medina sued Southern California Permanente Medical Group; Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. for age and disability discrimination, failure to pay wages and wrongful termination in violation of state and federal law. She seeks general economic and non-economic damages, as well as special and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Medina is represented by George Azadian and Edrik Mehrabi, in Pasadena, Calif.