Fired Worker Sues Kaiser for Discrimination

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — Kaiser hospitals have an “entrenched” policy of discriminating against black employees and women, says a woman who was fired after 16 years.
     Lunell Gamble worked in the benefits department for 16 years, until she was fired on false allegations of falsifying work records and acting aggressively toward her boss, she says in her Aug. 9 complaint in Alameda County Court.
     Gamble says she had a clean record until Rosa Grajeda began managing, and harassing her, in 2012.
     Among other things, Gamble says, Grajeda followed her into a bathroom and accused her of being lazy; scolded her in front of co-workers for laughing; and told her that the entire department had complained about her perfume, then acknowledged that she, Grajeda, was the only one who complaint.
     Gamble says she got a “final written warning” in July 2014 with a negative evaluation of her performance and accusing her of hostile behavior toward Grajeda. Despite making improvements and meeting with hospital officials about the discipline imposed on her, Kaiser fired Gamble within the month, she says.
     “Each claim was mere pretext for Kaiser’s discrimination against older African Americans,” the complaint states.”Rather than providing an honest opportunity to perform the work, Kaiser set plaintiff up for ultimate termination.”
     Gamble says Kaiser regularly writes negative performance evaluations of black employees and creates “false pretexts” for meting out discipline. When they complain of discrimination, she says, Kaiser retaliates.
     She claims that Kaiser also tells supervisors to falsify information in complaints lodged by black workers to hide its discriminatory policies from outside agencies and courts.
     The result, Gamble says, is terminations of black employees at “statistically significant disproportionate rates.”
     “Kaiser’s pattern and practice of discrimination is so pervasive and entrenched throughout that race and race-gender discrimination and unlawful retaliation can be said to be its modus of operations,” Gamble says in the complaint.
     She says Kaiser keeps black women in the lowest-paid jobs by refusing them training that would advance them into higher-paying and more secure ones.
     She says black women are excluded from supervisory and management positions, “positions with the greatest influence and decision making authority over reviews, promotions, retention and termination,” perpetuating Kaiser’s policy of reserving the best jobs and pay for non-black employees.
     She seeks reinstatement, back pay and benefits, plus interest, and damages for discrimination.
     She is represented by Jeremy Friedman. Neither Friedman nor representatives for Kaiser could be reached for comment Friday.
     Named as defendants are Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and The Permanente Medical Group, all dba Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program.

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