EEOC Sues Kaiser Permanente for Disability Discrimination
September 06, 2013

EEOC Charges that worker with hydrocephalus was fired after being denied a free job
coach to assist with training.

San Diego, CA - infoZine - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
announced it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente, the
largest managed care organization in the United States, on behalf of a former food service
worker with a disability.

Kaiser Permanente initially hired the individual in June 2008 as a food service worker at its
San Diego Medical Center facility. The former worker has a medical condition,
hydrocephalus, which causes difficulties with memory, dizziness and concentration.
According to the EEOC, the worker requested additional training time and the assistance of
a temporary job coach so that he might effectively learn his job and perform his job duties.
Toward Maximum Independence (TMI), a non-profit organization in San Diego specializing
in assisting people with disabilities, was available to provide the temporary job coaching
services for the worker free of charge to the employer. However, Kaiser refused to grant
the reasonable accommodation request, and instead chose to fire the worker in August
2008, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed its
suit against Kaiser in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v.
Kaiser Foundation Hospitals dba Kaiser Permanente, Case No. 3:13-cv-02062-MMA-WVG),
after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC's suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the former food
service worker as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination at the

"Federal law dictates that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable
accommodations which pose no undue hardship on the employer," said Anna Park,
regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes San Diego in its
jurisdiction. "The EEOC will be ever vigilant to ensure that employers abide by the law."
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Courthouse News Service
December 12, 2011

A Kaiser employee says he was fired because of attendance problems tied to sickle cell

In 2004, according to the complaint, the defendants fired the plaintiff for attendance issues
related to his sickle cell anemia. The plaintiff was reinstated after filing a discrimination
complaint with the EEOC, but the defendants continued to issue discipline for absences
related to his disabling condition.

The defendants eventually disregarded their progressive discipline system and forced the
plaintiff to either resign or enter a last chance agreement, according to the complaint. The
plaintiff agreed to the last chance agreement, but the defendants fired him one week later
when defendant Kaiser's Chief of Occupational Medicine deemed him unfit for work after a
five-minute examination.
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Disabilities discrimination
Catch-22 protects Kaiser in lawsuit: since he was assigned to a schedule that
prevented him from attending training, then Kaiser was excused from its obligation to
offer training to worker.

Kaiser Cleared of Discrimination Complaint
Courthouse News Service
October 02, 2014       

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge tossed an employee's discrimination complaint
alleging that a Kaiser supervisor told him he is lazy because he is black.
  Sam Chiles sued Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in 2011 for racial and age
discrimination, harassment and hostile work environment. He claimed that after he
transferred to the hospital chain's Santa Rosa facility, supervisors made racial
comments to him, bullied him, and treated him differently from other employees.
  One supervisor said that he "felt African-Americans over here are lazy and do not
take advantage of what the state offers to them, I guess, as people," according to
Chiles' complaint.
  Kaiser sought summary judgment on Jan. 30 this year, claiming that its supervisors
had legitimate reasons for employment actions the hospital chain says Chiles
interpreted as discriminatory.
  U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, ruled on Sept. 30 that Chiles presented
evidence that could support his claims of racially motivated actions, successfully
establishing a prima facie case.
  She added, however, that Kaiser provided "legitimate" and "non-discriminatory"
reasons for the alleged adverse employment actions.
  "With respect to the bidding process for transfers to other positions, it is undisputed
that this aspect of plaintiff's employment was strictly governed by the terms and
conditions of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement], which is based on seniority,"
James wrote. Her 13-page order adds that Chiles does not dispute that he was later
hired at Kaiser's Oakland facility based on his seniority.
  The court also found that Kaiser was right to hold Chiles to his assigned schedule.
  "Defendant has asserted a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for maintaining
plaintiff's schedule," James found. "Defendant presented evidence that the CBA
governed plaintiff's shift schedule while working at the hospital. Defendant presented
evidence that plaintiff was awarded a position at the Santa Rosa hospital with specific
days and hours."
  She added that under the CBA, Chiles was not eligible to work at his desired
outpatient facility because he was the "least senior tech in the MRI department" and
that rescheduling patients from the outpatient facility to the hospital where Chiles
worked was a business decision to provide "continued coverage" for patients, not to
disparately load him with extra work.
  "With respect to the denial of training, defendant asserts that the only evidence
plaintiff presented was that his schedule was not compatible with the training dates,
which is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason," James wrote.
  Chiles was unable to show discrimination, and James granted Kaiser's motion for
summary judgment on all claims.
  "The court finds that plaintiff has failed to produce sufficient evidence to overcome
defendant's showing that the proffered reason for its actions are false or that the true
reason is discriminatory based on plaintiff's race," James wrote. "Thus, plaintiff has not
raised a triable issue with regard to discrimination sufficient to survive summary
  James also granted summary judgment on Chiles' age discrimination claim, citing the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects employees older than 40, but
does not "protect workers over age 40 from favoritism toward older workers."
  As for the racially charged comment made by a supervisor, James said, the comment
"appears to have been an isolated occurrence."  
Kaiser Permanente discrimination