Kaiser Fires Nurse Injured at Work, Suit Claims
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Instead of accommodating her disabilities, Kaiser fired an experienced senior nurse who had fallen at work, she claims in her Los Angeles Superior Court suit.
Lois Carter sues Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Southern California, and Southern California Permanente Medical Group for failure to accommodate disability, failure to engage in the interactive process, and disability discrimination.
In 2009, Carter says she slipped in a treatment room and had injuries to her back, right knee and her arms and wrists. She had two surgeries for the injuries, including a carpal tunnel release procedure, according to the suit, but she continued to have pain and swelling and was released for work with restrictions such as limited typing and other fine manipulative types of activities.
Carter says she was called while she was off work and told that Kaiser would not accommodate her work limitation. Two days after this, her job was posted, indicating that Kaiser had “no intention of accommodating plaintiff’s disabilities,” the suit says, and she was placed on “Temporarily Totally Disabled Status.” She had worked for Kaiser as a nurse since 1998, Carter says.
Carter then saw a different doctor who did a complete work up on her condition, she says. She met with Kaiser’s Return to Work Coordinator and a Human Resources Coordinator to see if she could return to work or to find an alternative work assignment, according to the action, but was told the suggestions for reasonable accommodation “were not feasible,” and no alternative positions were offered.
One of the suggested alternatives to replace repetitive typing was to use Dragon Speak voice-activated software, a tool frequently used by doctors to dictate reports, the suit says. This suggestion was dismissed during the meeting because it “raised patient confidentiality concerns and would produce noise distractions for other employees,” which Carter claims “defies the reality of a clinical setting where conditions are frequently loud and chaotic.”
“Additionally, defendants’ parent company, Kaiser Permanente, employs over 51,000 nurses, further undermining its claim that no alternative position existed for which plaintiff is qualified,” according to the action. Carter claims the “purported interactive process meeting was a complete sham.”
Carter seeks actual, consequential and incidental losses including income, benefits and medical expenses, as well as general damages for physical injuries, emotional distress and mental suffering, punitive and exemplary damages, interest and legal costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Joseph Y. Avrahamy in Encino.