Black Man Fired After Noting Supervisor’s Racism, Suit Claims
1-22-2019 10:53:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – A black worker was fired after he complained of his Hispanic supervisor’s preferential treatment of other Hispanic workers, according to his lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Amery Merriweather, Thursday, sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, doing business as Kaiser Permanente, and Martha Ruvalcaba, for California Labor Code violations of discrimination and harassment based on race, national origin or ethnicity, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, and retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Merriweather worked as a housekeeping aide for the Kaiser defendant for five years, until he was fired after making complaints of race-based discrimination and harassment by defendant supervisor Ruvalcaba, according to the action.

Merriweather says Ruvalcaba, who is Hispanic, gave preferential treatment to Hispanic employees, including a preference for hiring Hispanic employees from “her home town of Stockton.” 

Ruvalcaba also gave Hispanic workers preferential job assignments, allowed Hispanic workers to change the areas where they were going to work on the same day, provided Hispanic workers with the equipment they needed for the job, gave Hispanic workers “preferential consideration in hiring and promotions,” allowed Hispanic workers to be paid for time they were not working, and treated Hispanic workers “with courtesy, whereas plaintiff Merriweather was treated with hostility due to his race as an African American/black man,” the action states.

Merriweather says he was not allowed to switch his job assignment, and had one job assignment taken away from him after he filed an internal complaint regarding the discrimination, which the Kaiser defendant then “ratified,” according to the suit.

Starting in 2015, Merriweather says he was continuously pulled out of his job assignments. He made a complaint through his union in late 2016. In January 2017, Ruvalcaba again denied Merriweather’s request to be moved to a different area after a Hispanic coworker had been allowed to do so. He says he went to the breakroom and complained that Ruvalcaba was racist. 

“Defendant Kaiser ratified defendant Martha Ruvalcaba’s discriminatory treatment of plaintiff Merriweather by allowing her to take discipline against plaintiff for calling her a racist,” the complaint charges.

Merriweather says he was having an ongoing sexual relationship with a Hispanic coworker, Misty Feliciano, who was the fiancé of Ruvalcaba’s son. Feliciano told Merriweather that Ruvalcaba was racist against blacks and used the word “nigger” to describe them, according to the action. 

Feliciano “did not want Martha Ruvalcaba to know about our relationship as Martha would be angry that a black man had sex with her son’s fiancé,” Merriweather says.

Feliciano then filed a “false claim of sexual harassment” against Merriweather, who believes the claim was made due to Ruvalcaba’s bias against him due to his race “and his complaints about defendant Martha Ruvalcaba,” the suit states.

Merriweather says he is aware of another incident where Feliciano made a false harassment charge because she wanted the weekends off. Ruvalcaba “instructed Misty to indicate that she was being harassed by her supervisor Vinnie Ramos and/or the head aide Dennis Blanco” at work on Sundays so she could get her shift moved to Mondays, the action alleges.

After the false claim, Merriweather was placed on administrative leave, and then fired, according to the suit.

Merriweather seeks compensatory damages including lost wages, commissions and other employment benefits, general damages for mental pain, anguish, and emotional distress, exemplary and punitive damages, interest and legal costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Kevin W. Harris and Ryan P. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, Inc. in Sacramento, California.