Kaiser Fires Man for Being Christian, He Claims
4-11-2013 15:49:00

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A man was subjected to religious discrimination and eventually lost his job for reporting it, he claims in a complaint filed in Riverside County Superior Court.

Gumaro Trevino began working as a registered nurse at Moreno Valley Community Hospital in 2001. In 2008, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals acquired ownership of the hospital, transitioning it to the new Kaiser Permanente Moreno Valley Community Hospital.

Trevino claims in his complaint that Emergency Department Chief Dr. George Salameh routinely screamed at him in front of patients, co-workers and other doctors, calling him an “idiot” and stating that he “punished his patients” by not giving them water, blankets or pain medication. The harassment began to damage his professional reputation, Trevino’s complaint said, and became so outrageous and extreme, it created a hostile work environment, “which interfered with plaintiff’s ability to perform his job.”

He reported the treatment to Dr. Norman Label and his immediate supervisor Bill Herbert, but claims neither Kaiser employee remedied the situation, resulting in retaliation from Salameh, according to the complaint.

The religious discrimination came at the hands of team leader Thomas Perez, whom Trevino claims harassed him because he was a minister at a non-denominational Christian church, the complaint said.

“Perez routinely and continuously made abusive and harassing comments regarding Plaintiff’s religion, including, but not limited to, greeting plaintiff every day by referring to him as ‘the devil,’ mocking to co-workers plaintiff’s position of Christian minister, while babbling and pretending to be speaking in tongues,” the complaint said.

Trevino said in his complaint that on several occasions Perez’ behavior became so radical, he thought Perez might hit him. The harassment was ongoing through 2011, with Kaiser managers forcing him to “clock out,” but continue working to avoid paying him overtime pay, according to the complaint. The retaliation became more intense over time, he added.

Trevino said Herbert and the other defendants “began to plan and set up situations wherein plaintiff would be forced to violate policy, or would be unable to adequately perform so that they could manufacture a pretextual reason to terminate plaintiff’s employment,” the complaint states.

Trevino was finally fired on Aug. 23, 2011 after being accused of violating company policy by failing to adjust a computer entry to reflect the actual amount of medication given to a patient, according to the complaint.

“The reason for plaintiff’s termination was pretextual and resulted from defendants’ attempts to set-up plaintiff for failure and/or a violation of policy, thereby giving them a fabricated reason for terminating his employment,” the complaint states.

Trevino is suing for religious discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and failure to timely pay wages and overtime pay. He is seeking compensatory, special, general and punitive damages.

Douglas E. Geyman represents the plaintiff.