Kaiser Fires Manager on Caregiver Leave, Suit Claims
9-1-2018 01:47:00

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – Kaiser fired a Nursing Clinical Manager on protected leave, after conducting a one-sided “investigation” into her “management style,” according to her Riverside County Superior Court suit.

Sharon Starnes sues Kaiser Permanente, Inc., doing business as Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, for violations of federal and state labor laws, as well as breach of contract, retaliation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of the California Constitution and defamation.
Starnes, a black woman over the age of 40, worked for Kaiser since 2001, and says in her suit that she “never received a write-up, disciplinary action, nor was counseled on inappropriate conduct,” prior to taking medical leave to care for her husband who had had two major strokes.
Starnes’ original Caregiver Status Report was approved for January and February 2018, and a second status report extended the leave through August 2018. However, she notified Kaiser that she was returning early from the leave at the end of April, at which time she was told to report to Human Resources, according to the action.
When she met with the Human Resource representative, Starnes says she was told there had been an investigation into her management style and she was being placed on administrative leave.

Starnes says she was accused of making sexual, derogatory and racial comments, including referring to an African-American employee as a monkey. Starnes says the accusations are nonsensical and false, and that the investigator and Human Resource representative made many stereotyping comments regarding her management style based on her own race and age.

Starnes was not allowed to defend herself against the false allegations before she was placed on administrative leave. Two weeks later, Starnes saw her doctor who put her on medical leave due to the extreme stress caused by defendants’ “harassing and discriminatory conduct,” according to the action.

Starnes notified Kaiser of her medical leave status, and at 6:04 that evening, the Human Resource officer left a phone message that she was fired, which was followed up by couriered notice of termination delivered at 10:07 p.m.

Kaiser’s own employee handbook and personnel policies stipulate that an employee “would not be demoted, discharged or otherwise disciplined except for good cause and with notice and an opportunity to be heard,” and that employees “would be evaluated in a fair and objective manner and afforded progressive discipline,” Starnes notes. 

Starnes seeks general, special, compensatory, liquidated, punitive and exemplary damages, and interest, penalties, legal costs, restitution and disgorgement of profits, in addition to a preliminary and permanent injunction against the appropriate job position and to purge her employment records of all derogatory information and preclude dissemination of that information to prospective employers, employees or others.

The plaintiff is represented by Nancyrose Hernandez of the Law Office of Nancyrose Hernandez in Canyon Lake, California.