Trainee Targets Lab Tech Through Discrimination, Suit Claims
DENVER, Colo. (CN) – A Kaiser lab technician was fired after she complained of a trainee’s discrimination towards her, according to a U.S. District Court, Colorado, suit.
Nira Aran sues Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado for discrimination for race, national origin and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, for age discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, for violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, wrongful discharge, and for violations of state and federal regulations regarding laboratory testing.
According to the action, Aran, 57, is of Tamil, Indian descent. She has worked as a pathology grossing technician for Kaiser since 2006 and was a “top performer” from 2007 to 2016.
Aran says she was assigned to train an employee who had been demoted from another position because she lacked the proper credentials for the position, was unable to pass the test to get the credentials, and who had been allowed to remain in the position for seven years before she was demoted.
The trainee did not follow directions and made Aran feel unsafe, as she “began slamming things down, coughed into plaintiff’s face and called plaintiff a bitch,” the suit states. The trainee also called her “a stupid old lady,” said she “stunk like curry,” and used profanity when talking to or about Aran. The trainee also complained that she could not understand Aran due to her accent, mocking her in front of other employees.
While testing lab samples, Aran dictated her findings. “On Dec. 9, 2016, plaintiff was the only grossing technician in Kaiser Colorado to have received an award from the Department of Medical Transcription for her dictation being clear,” the suit notes.
Aran says she reported the problems with the trainee and advised her union. Other employees also complained of the workplace environment caused by the trainee. Aran began counseling and treatment for the workplace stress, she says.
Aran’s supervisor refused to correct the situation, so Aran says she sent emails to the next level of supervisors, causing her own supervisor to retaliate against her by accusing Aran of “not following procedures, losing tissue samples, underprocessing tissues, inaccurately maintaining logs and computer entries, incorrectly mixing solutions and damaging work equipment.”
Aran suspected the trainee was sabotaging her work and reported that as well. An investigation resulted in the supervisor being put on a performance improvement plan. The supervisor retired six months later, but continued to retaliate against Aran during that time.
The new supervisor changed Aran’s shift while she was on medical leave. Three weeks after Aran returned from her leave, she was fired. Coworkers wrote letters of support for Aran, one 18-year employee referring to Aran as “the best grossing technician ever in the laboratory.”
Aran seeks economic damages for back pay, future pay, lost benefits and lost employment opportunities, liquidated damages, declaratory relief, return of employment and removal of references to her firing in her employment record, damages for emotional distress and related past and future medical costs, punitive damages, interest and legal costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Charles W. Hemphill of the Law Offices of Charles W. Hemphill in Littleton, Colorado.