Fired Nurse Practitioner Claims Retaliation for Complaints
LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Kaiser nurse practitioner was fired after she complained of a hostile work environment and illegal practices, according to her lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Parmjit Dhandi sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals; Southern California Permanente Group, Inc. and Nazly Behina for wrongful termination, employment discrimination on the basis of race, age, disability and need to take medical leave, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process or to provide reasonable accommodations, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
According to the action, defendant Kaiser hired plaintiff Dhandi as a registered nurse around Dec. 8, 2008. Dhandi transitioned to a nurse practitioner position in March 2018, and was transferred to Kaiser’s Panorama City’s Spine Center under the supervision of defendant Behina, the regional director of the spine center.
Dhandi also worked with Rabia Khan, the coordinator, and Erica Barton, the physical therapist, who were both “new graduates and in their twenties,” the suit states.
Behina reportedly commented to Dhandi that she did not want to hire plaintiff, “but was forced to because plaintiff was the best candidate.” Khan told Dhandi “you remind me of my mom. I can’t stand my mom.” She also told Dhandi that she “didn’t deserve the pay” she was receiving because she did not “obtain her primary education in the United States.”
Dhandi’s suit also alleges that she was told by Khan and Behina to try to be more “white,” she was referred to as a “foreigner” by her colleagues, and she was always assigned the “brown” patients.
Behina then made comments to Dhandi that she should learn from her “millennial” colleagues, that she did not fit in with the culture of the department, and negatively comparing her typing skills to those of the younger team members.
By October 2018, the hostile work environment reportedly led to Dhandi experiencing depression. Though she complained to Behina about it, nothing was changed. Dhandi told Behina that she intended to take intermittent medical leave and Behina responded, “Ok, that’s fine but I suggest you look for another job. You should think about your future,” the suit states.
When Dhandi told her doctor what Behina had threatened, he said that Behina reportedly had told him to “stay out of it.” Behina then, according to the action, began to retaliate against Dhandi by interfering with her appointments with her doctor, and not informing her of meetings. Behina also “continuously violated patients’ privacy by allowing plaintiff’s colleagues to listen in on plaintiff’s telephonic appointments,” the suit states.
The action states that Dhandi filed complaints with Kaiser’s compliance department against Behina for the patients’ privacy issue, and against Khan for approving and denying referrals when she had no authority to do so.
Dhandi was then fired on a pretextual basis having to do with a mileage compensation Dhandi received at Behina’s instigation, the complaint claims.
Dhandi seeks front pay, back pay, compensatory, consequential and special damages, statutory penalties, restitution and disgorgement, an accounting, a permanent injunction stopping defendant from further employment violations, interest, and legal costs and fees.
The plaintiff is represented by Nazo Koulloukian and Christine Harmandayan of the Koul Law Firm in Los Angeles, California, and by Charles T. Mathews of the Mathews Law Group in Arcadia, California.