Kaiser Turns Blind Eye to Sexual Harassment of Non-Whites, Nurse Claims
By William Dotinga
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An emergency room nurse says Kaiser ignored her complaints that an x-ray technician sexually harassed her - but routinely handled similar complaints by her Caucasian co-workers.
Julieta Ludovico, 51, says in a federal complaint that an x-ray technician grabbed her by the shoulder and told her he would "take his big wet tongue and shove it down her throat a few times" because he was sure "she would like that." Ludovico says she filed a complaint with Kaiser Permanente personnel, providing them with written statements from witnesses verifying the incident.
However, Ludovico claims human resources managers did nothing about the incident or her request to have the x-ray technician transferred to another hospital - telling her that he "had rights too" - other than suggesting she change shifts, according to the complaint. Ludovico, who is Filipina, says Kaiser regularly accommodated the requests of Caucasian co-workers who experienced similar sexual harassment.
Eventually Ludovico says Kaiser forced her to accept a transfer - after months of waiting for management to investigate her claim and after a doctor placed her on medical leave for stress. However, problems mounted again for the nurse in her new location when - because of staff shortages - she became injured while moving a heavy patient alone.
Ludovico says she filed both a worker's compensation claim and a complaint over working conditions in the new facility. Immediately, Kaiser staff harassed her over her work limitations, according to the complaint.
"Plaintiff's physician periodically removed her work restrictions but her condition persisted and she was placed back on modified duty. Plaintiff's managers continually assigned her job duties outside her job restrictions and which exacerbated the pain. Plaintiff was assigned menial tasks like greeter, which embarrassed and humiliated her, or assigned to sit in a room at a computer and forbidden to be out on the floor. Plaintiff is informed and believes that defendant could have accommodated her in a position that would not exacerbate her medical condition and that would utilize her nursing skills, but they made no effort to do so. Plaintiff is informed and believes that defendant's actions were taken in retaliation for claiming worker's compensation for her work-related injuries and for complaining about unsafe working conditions, and were intended to create a pretext for defendant to claim that her disability could not be accommodated," Ludovico says in her complaint.
In the end, she says, that's exactly what Kaiser did when the company told her it could no longer accommodate her last year.
Ludovico seeks general, compensatory, special and treble damages stemming from sexual harassment, retaliation, and age, disability and race discrimination.
She is represented by John F. Prentice, Robert D. Postar and Sheila A. Reid of Emeryville, Calif.