Diabetic Lab Tech Fired While on Modified Duty, Action Asserts
LOS ANGELES (CN) – Kaiser fired a lab assistant who was constantly harassed by her supervisor for taking time off for her health needs, according to an action filed in Sacramento County Superior Court.
J.V. sued The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. and Lori Gomes-Harrison for violations of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), disability discrimination, harassment, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process and retaliation.
J.V. worked for defendant Kaiser medical group as a Laboratory Assistant from February 2002 to June 13, 2018, according to her action.
In 2015, defendant Harrison became J.V.’s direct supervisor. Harrison “continuously harassed plaintiff based on her disability,” due to her need to take intermittent time off for her type II diabetes and orthopedic back disc disease, the suit states.
In 2016, Kaiser “approved and placed plaintiff on an approved FMLA/CFRA leave” that was to be renewed annually based on the proper medical certifications, the complaint claims. The leave allowed J.V. to take one to three days off per month on an intermittent basis as needed.
However, Harrison continued to harass J.V., telling her “your absenteeism is unacceptable,” the suit states. The harassment created a hostile work environment for J.V., as Harrison demanded that she call in sick “at least several hours in advance,” which was not always possible with her medical conditions.
Harrison made negative comments, gave write-ups and a “last chance” write-up despite J.V.’s medical notes, the action alleges. J.V. had “stellar reviews for over a decade of her employment” with Kaiser, until she received a write up on Aug. 10, 2017, the suit states.
J.V.’s condition continued to deteriorate. By January 2018, she was also being treated for chronic nausea and hypoglycemia. By Feb. 22, she was placed on medical leave to March 29, which was further extended to April 8, according to the action.
J.V. returned to work on April 9, but her health did not improve, and she was placed on modified duty from May 11 through Aug. 10, returning to the one to three days off per month as needed allowance. The work note also stated, “if modified duty is not accommodated by the employer, then this patient is considered temporary [sic] and totally disabled from their regular work for the designated time and separate off work order is not required,” the suit states.
On June 13, 2018, plaintiff was fired for “insignificant, unsubstantiated and unjustified reasons,” the action alleges.
J.V. seeks general, compensatory, and special damages, including medical and related expenses, past and future lost earnings and employment benefits, punitive damages, interest and legal costs. She is represented by Mark P. Velez and Natalya V. Grunwald of the Velez Law Firm, P.C., in Roseville, California.