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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Woman Says Kaiser Boss ‘Disliked’ Her Cancer

ROSEVILLE, Calif. (CN) - A Kaiser social worker's supervisor "disliked" her cancer and forced her to take a demotion, she says in a complaint for discrimination and harassment filed in Placer County Superior Court.

Margo Golston, a social worker at Kaiser Hospital since 2002, says in her complaint that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. When she returned from medical leave following surgery, her supervisor, Jean Friedman, "who had previously had a good working relationship with plaintiff, disliked the fact that plaintiff needed accommodation of her work schedule, and the fact that plaintiff suffers from cancer," the complaint says.

Friedman "started to harass and discriminate against plaintiff in an effort to force her to resign her social work position. Jean Friedman, in fact, frequently told plaintiff that she shouldn't be working in her position because of her medical issues," the complaint states, adding that Friedman "was merciless in her mistreatment of plaintiff from early 2011 to the end of 2012, when plaintiff was forced by Ms. Friedman to take a demotion to a position outside the hospital in Sacramento."

As examples of Friedman's harassment, the complaint describes ways Friedman created hostility between Golston and other staff members, including telling Golston that "everyone" was complaining about Golston and that she was causing morale problems, allowing employees to leave trash in Golston's office and write "Margo is still out sick," in a black marker on a schedule board, and "openly acting with disdain toward plaintiff so as to encourage her colleagues to stop speaking with plaintiff."

When Golston's chair broke, Friedman "made fun of her by saying, 'We would all like Lazy Boys and chaise lounges with remote controls,'" and refused to provide a new chair for over a year, Golston says in her complaint.

Friedman voiced her intention to move Golston to another department, in various ways, including "telling plaintiff that her 'niche' would be leaving the department and working with cancer patients, since it had been a year since her diagnosis."

"When plaintiff declined a transfer to the Cancer Wing," the complaint states, "Ms. Friedman told plaintiff, 'I'm sick of you; I can't take this anymore.'"

"Plaintiff was forced to transfer from the work environment she had loved, at least before she had cancer, to a lesser position," Golston says in her complaint. "She could no longer stand the harassment by Jean Friedman and could find no other way to escape the harassment. By late 2012, plaintiff was suffering severe symptoms from the harassment and was close to a complete breakdown. Her work environment had become so hostile that she dreaded coming to work and suffered severe headaches and sleepless nights," according to the complaint.

Plaintiff is represented by William Wright and Julie Doumit of Sacramento.

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