Kaiser Agrees to Accommodate, Fires Disabled Worker, Suit Says
2-20-2019 22:54:00

SAN DIEGO (CN) – After agreeing that a disabled employee could take additional doctor-ordered breaks to accommodate his condition, Kaiser then placed him on leave and fired him before the leave was over, according to a complaint filed in San Diego County, Central District, Superior Court.

Chaleun Khamphouvong sued Kaiser Permanente, Inc. for Federal Employment and Housing Act violations, including discrimination and harassment, failure to accommodate disability or to engage in the interactive process, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Khamphouvong says he began working for Kaiser in December 2014 as an account administrative representative. Two years later, in December 2016, he was told he was being investigated for excessive breaks, according to the action. The reason for the breaks was medical, Khamphouvong says.

That same day, Dec. 15, 2016, he went to see his doctor and was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome by an IBS specialist. The doctor gave Khamphouvong a medical note with restrictions of “additional breaks up to 5 per day lasting 10-15 minutes each from 1/24/17 to 1/24/18,” the suit states.

On Jan. 11, 2017, Khamphouvong was placed on Level 4 Corrective Action leave from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, due to “time card fraud” in November 2016, because he had been away from his desk excessively, according to the action.

On Jan. 25, 2017, Khamphouvong met with defendant Kaiser’s disability management specialist and he was told he could continue to do his job with the medical restrictions. Then Khamphouvong’s manager told him he did not need to email her when he took a break and both the manager and the disability specialist agreed he did not have to clock in and out for his breaks for his accommodation because that would be “illegal,” the suit alleges.

On Sept 15, 2017, Khamphouvong says he was again called in and told he was being investigated for time card fraud. He was then placed on administrative leave until Jan. 13, 2018. He was fired on Jan. 12, according to the complaint.

Khamphouvong says he believes he was fired due to his disability and his need for accommodations. In addition to loss of wages and benefits, and physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering, Khamphouvong has lost employment related opportunities and damage to his professional reputation. 

Khamphouvong seeks general, special and punitive damages, interest, legal costs and injunctive relief.

The plaintiff is represented by Joseph M. Lovretovich and Jared W. Beilke of JML Law, A Professional Corporation in Woodland Hills, California.