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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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Ex-Kaiser Worker’s Retaliation Claim Nixed

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A social worker who says Kaiser Permanente fired her when she received a death threat does not have a case for retaliation, a federal judge ruled.

Robin Love is suing Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and The Permanente Medical Group in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The licensed clinical social worker claims to have been working at a Kaiser facility in San Francisco in 2011 when she learned from another therapist that one of her patients in couples counseling had told his wife that he wanted to "murder Robin Love."

When Love asked Kaiser to get a restraining order against the patient, identified in her lawsuit only as J.H., it ignored her request and told her to "let it go," according to the complaint filed pro se in November.

Love said the medical provider took disciplinary action based on the claim that she had violated J.H.'s privacy by looking at his medical records. The provider later falsely charged her with allowing a suicidal patient to go to hospital unattended, according to the complaint.

She said Kaiser fired her in May 2012, under the guise of disciplinary action, for reporting a dangerous workplace environment.

Jenny Chi-Chin Huang with Justice First of Oakland, Calif., now represents Love, who alleged eight causes of action in a second amended complaint.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick dismissed two of those counts - for breach of contract and retaliation under California's Whistleblower Protection Act - with prejudice last week.

"Love has still not alleged sufficient facts in the SAC that her complaints are protected whistleblower activities under California Health and Safety Code § 1278.5," he wrote.

There have been no facts to support the allegation that Love's complaints related to the safety of others at the hospital rather than her own safety, the 10-page ruling continues.

As to Love's contract claims, the court found that the SEIU collective bargaining agreement "expired before the events that give rise to Love's causes of action, and therefore its contractual provisions do not apply to her claims."

Love has meanwhile stipulated to striking "all references" to California Health and Safety Code section 1278.5, according to the ruling.

Remaining counts allege discrimination, wrongful termination, emotional distress and other violations. Orrick agreed to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.

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