Kaiser Worker Says He Was Fired After Testifying
10-17-2017 23:56:00

OAKLAND (CN) – After testifying for a black coworker in an employment discrimination suit, a black Kaiser orthopedic technician says in a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court he was forced to quit his job due to harassment.

His suit claims that an escalating pattern of racial discrimination in his department caused a stress-related heart condition, giving him no choice but to resign.

The plaintiff, under the pseudonym John Doe, sued The Permanente Medical Group, Daisy L. Sundstrom, DPM and Alex Lau, MD for wrongful termination and for violations under The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), including harassment based on race and age, failure to prevent harassment, retaliation, and failure to prevent retaliation.

The plaintiff was appointed as Lead Orthopedic Technician for the Kaiser Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Injury Center at Kaiser’s San Francisco Medical Center, according to the suit. Nevertheless, defendant supervisors Sundstrom and Lau, a married couple, continuously discriminated against Doe by refusing to speak to him, giving some of his responsibilities to white coworkers and assigning the only other black technician to work with him, Doe says.

When the black coworker filed a discrimination suit against Kaiser, Doe testified on his behalf that “race played a part in management’s attitude toward the coworker,” according to the suit. After that, the harassment escalated, Doe says. A diversity training was held, but the result was more, not less, hostility toward the plaintiff, he says.

When Doe returned to work after being off for a work injury, he says that Sundstrom and Lau, and other doctors and medical providers, continued to avoid talking to him or working with him. After a week of this treatment, he was diagnosed with a stress-related heart condition and placed back on medical leave, according to the suit. After six months, it became clear his disability would not allow him to return to that work environment, he says.

The plaintiff seeks general, special, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as interest and legal costs.

Plaintiff Doe is represented by Laurel Mousseau in San Mateo, California.