Employee Not Protected After Supervisor Rape, Suit Claims
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (CN) – A Kaiser supervisor sexually assaulted his charge and then began a campaign of harassment and retaliation to force her to quit, she claims in a San Bernardino Superior Court lawsuit.
The employee, V.S., sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Earl Bonner for sexual assault and battery, negligence, and violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, including harassment, retaliation, discrimination on the basis of gender and disability, failure to accommodate, and failure to prevent discrimination.
V.S., who sued under her real name, says she has worked for Kaiser since 2009. Defendant Bonner is an assistant department administrator at a Kaiser facility, according to the action.
In the fall of 2015, Bonner invited V.S. and her boyfriend, who Bonner also supervises, to attend a health care convention in Las Vegas. V.S.'s boyfriend was unable to attend due to his work schedule, but because Bonner was a long-time friend of V.S.’s boyfriend and his family, and she thought of him as a trusted co-worker and friend, she accepted the invitation, the suit states.
At the dinner party the evening before the convention,V.S. had too much to drink and Bonner took her to her room. He left, but then returned hours later and “committed a sexual assault and battery upon plaintiff, by force,” the action alleges.
V.S. says she awoke to find him on top of her, ripping off her clothes, restraining her, biting her nipple so hard it bled, and forcibly having “unconsented intercourse with her (rape),” according to the action.
After the convention, V.S. says she resisted Bonner’s continuing sexual advances and he retaliated by harassing her. In one instance, she asked for a day off and he replied, “You want a day off—then what are you going to do for me?” according to the action.
The harassment became a “systematic pattern and campaign to harass and retaliate against plaintiff, to undermine her, and to set her up to fail at work,” the action says. The retaliation was apparently with the “intent of forcing her to quit.”
V.S. says she asked to be transferred, but Kaiser refused to do so, and also refused to do anything about the harassment and retaliation. She was forced to take an extended leave of absence in mid-June 2017, as the retaliation intensified after she made complaints about the hostile work environment, harassment, discrimination and retaliation, the action says.
She has been on leave since, because her psychiatrist “has written a series of off-work orders for plaintiff,” the action states. She has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, the suit says.
V.S. seeks general and punitive damages, legal costs and at least at least $100,000 in specified damages, in addition to injunctive relief stopping defendants from committing further acts of harassment, retaliation and discrimination.
V.S. is represented by Bradley R. White of Granowitz, White and Weber in San Bernardino, California.