Kaiser Illegally Fired Disabled Nurse, Action Alleges
FAIRFIELD, Calif. (CN) – Kaiser placed a disabled nurse on “industrial leave” and then fired her instead of providing accommodations, according to her lawsuit filed in Solano County Superior Court.
Julieta Ludovico sued The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. for wrongful termination, employment disability discrimination and failure to provide accommodations or engage in the interactive process, and violations of the California Labor Code.
Ludovico, a registered nurse, was hired by defendant Kaiser in September 1997 as an emergency room nurse. She was transferred to Kaiser’s call center in Vallejo, California, to work as an advice nurse in 2013, according to the action.
From the time of her transfer to the date of her termination, Ludovico says she had “multiple legally qualified disabilities, including injuries to her back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hands and fingers,” the suit states. Kaiser was aware of her disabilities and her need for reasonable accommodations, such as an ergonomic work station, Dragon speech recognition software and limitations on keyboard and mouse usage.
In May 2017, Ludovico was told that Kaiser “could no longer reasonably accommodate plaintiff’s medical restrictions,” specifically “ her restrictions of a five minute break after each member call” and “keyboard/mouse limited to no more than five to ten minutes per hour,” the action notes, and she was placed on an industrial leave of absence. Kaiser did not engage in an interactive process, the complaint claims.
Ludovico says she applied for numerous open positions with Kaiser that she was qualified for based on her approximately 20 years of employment with the defendant, but Kaiser refused to place her. Instead, she was fired in June 2018, the action alleges.
After she was placed on leave, Ludovico says she asked to be paid for her sick leave and unused vested vacation wages, but Kaiser refused. Even after she was fired, Kaiser did not compensate Ludovico for the accrued vacation wages, “which were due and payable to plaintiff on June 22, 2018, the date of defendant’s termination of plaintiff’s employment,” the suit states.
Ludovico seeks economic compensatory damages, including loss of earnings and other employment benefits, non-economic compensatory damages for humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress, punitive damages, accrued sick leave and unused vested vacation wages, penalties and legal costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Randal M. Barnum and Jenna R. Avila of the Law Offices of Randal M. Barnum in Benicia, California.