LOS ANGELES (CN) - After learning that a celebrity mom breastfed her premature twins while drinking alcohol and taking medication, a social worker cried foul and lost her job, she claims in court.
Believing that the conduct amounted to child abuse, Mela Ferrer says she reported the celebrity to the Department of Child and Family Services on May 10, 2011.
That same week, celebrity Nick Cannon told journalist Piers Morgan that he and Mariah Carey had just been visited by the department based on allegations that there was "some drinking and drugs and all that going on while in the hospital."
The department reportedly determined quickly that there was no merit to the allegations concerning Carey's twins, who were born prematurely at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center on April 30, 2011.
But Ferrer says the hospital was worried that her duty-bound report would deter other celebrities from using their facilities. They urged Ferrer to "cover it up to protect the image of the celebrity mother," according to the complaint.
Neither Carey, Cannon nor their twins are named in the complaint, which refers only to a "well known celebrity."
Ferrer's lawyer David Olan said he could neither confirm nor deny the identity of the unnamed star.
As entertainment news outlets covered the investigation into Carey last year, the couple said Carey drank Guinness because hospital staff said it would promote lactating.
But Ferrer, who was working there on temporary assignment, says "that she was a mandated reporter and was obligated to report the matter to DCFS."
"Some (sic) the medications the celebrity mother was taking were not recommended and/or were contraindicated for use by nursing mothers and/or in combination with alcohol," the complaint states.
Ferrer says one of her supervisors at the hospital, Marcia Colone, reprimanded her on May 11 for filing the report before consulting with the social work supervisor, Josephine Kaplan.
On May 12, two days after Ferrer filed the report, Kaplan called the 68-year-old Ferrer into her office and fired her.
Ferrer says she later learned that she had been let go under the pretense of not following "protocol."
But the hospital never had set rules or procedures for filing complaints to the department, and it was only interested in protecting its celebrity clientele, according to the complaint.
Ferrer says her replacement is 30 years younger than she is.
The hospital is named as a defendant, along with Associated Staffing and Resources, Kaplan, Colone, and hundreds of as-yet unnamed defendants.
Ferrer seeks punitive damages for wrongful termination, violation of several state laws, breach of confidentiality and/or privacy, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and age discrimination.
UCLA told Courthouse News that it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services said it cannot release details of an investigation without a court order.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.