Man Says Kaiser Fired Him Over Injury Claim
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CN) - Administrators at a Kaiser hospital fired an employee for sustaining an injury and consequently taking disability status, he claims in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Steven Klein had been employed as a maintenance assistant at a Kaiser facility’s engineering department since 1996, but was involved in a work related injury on Feb. 11, 2008 that required two surgeries, one in 2009 and another in 2011.
He was diagnosed with a right knee medial meniscal tear, right knee chondromalacia and degenerative joint disease, according to the complaint.
Klein returned to work on “light duty” after each of his knee surgeries. He eventually recovered in full and was “able and willing” to return to work without any restrictions. Kaiser, however, denied him the opportunity to do so, despite his qualifications for certain open positions and being fully cleared for work by Dr. Robert Pandya on March 5, 2012, according to the complaint.
Kaiser’s Qualified Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Herring, also examined Klein in connection with his workers' compensation claim, discussing his "restrictions" in a meeting with Kaiser Disability Operation Consultant Sandra Charleston and Facility Services Director Robert Calderon. Also at the meeting was Klein, his union representative and a third-party return-to-work consultant.
“Most of the discussion during the meeting concerned plaintiff’s job duties as maintenance assistant and his work restrictions. Plaintiff emphasized to those in attendance that he would be able to perform the essential job duties of his position. However, toward the end of the meeting, Calderon stated that plaintiff should not be allowed to return to work at his regular job position because Calderon felt that plaintiff’s work restrictions would prevent him from running up stairs if there is a fire alarm,” the complaint states.
Klein says he was retaliated against because he took “disabled” status under California’s Fair Employment Housing Act. Kaiser’s actions, he claims, “constituted significant, adverse employment actions, which were in retaliation for, and were motivated by, plaintiff’s having engaged in the protected activity of exercising and asserting FEHA protected rights as a ‘disabled’ individual,” according to his complaint.
He was officially terminated March 15, 2013. Klein is suing for discrimination and retaliation under state law.
Stephen A. Ebner, of Calabasas, Calif., represents the plaintiff.