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January 2013 Archives

Lucasfilm pregnancy suit may be headed to California Supreme Court

After hearing three weeks of testimony from 20 witnesses, including filmmaker George Lucas, a California jury awarded a former Lucasfilm employee more than $100,000 in damages for pregnancy discrimination. On review, the 1st District Court of Appeals found the trial court judge erred in instructing the jury and ordered a retrial. Now the plaintiff is appealing to the California Supreme Court.The woman filed the original lawsuit in 2009 after she was hired to fill a position as assistant to Lucas' estate manager. She never began her employment, however, claiming she was fired because of her pregnancy. Lucas' film company denied the claim, asserting that the woman intentionally hid her pregnancy in order to take advantage of company health benefits.

Woman sues hospital for wrongful termination over cancer leave

A Southern California woman claims she was fired from her job at a hospital after taking leave for cancer treatments. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees, finding after a three-year investigation that there is reasonable cause to believe the woman was fired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The woman is now suing the hospital for cancer discrimination.The woman began working for the hospital, located in Virginia, in 2006. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and took leave for a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She says she was demoted after returning to work. She took leave again in 2009 for a second mastectomy. The day before she was due back to work, her supervisor called and fired her, saying she had not completed the necessary paperwork to take leave and had run out of sick days.

Whistle-blowing nurse sues hospital for wrongful termination

Yet another Kaiser Permanente Hospital has come under fire for its employment practices. As we reported in a recent blog post, the health care consortium was named as a defendant in 46 employment-related lawsuits in 2012. Now, a nurse has made a claim of wrongful termination against a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Francisco, alleging she was fired after she exposed the hospital's unsafe patient care practices.The nurse, who had been employed as an assistant nurse manager at the hospital since 2005, said she was discharged in 2010 for reporting violations of patient care regulations and other incidents impacting patient safety. The alleged violations included improper patient transfers, errors in dispensing medication and over-admitting patients in violation of a nurse-to-patient ratio requirement. The nurse claims that after she reported her concerns, the hospital retaliated against her.

More employees suing over accent-based discrimination

A California hospital recently paid $1 million to settle a class action workplace discrimination lawsuit that was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of dozens of Filipino-American employees; the suit alleged the workers were harassed and discriminated against for speaking in their native language as well as with an accent. Statistics released by the EEOC reveal that such lawsuits are becoming more common as the nation's work force becomes more ethnically diverse.According to the EEOC, claims of national origin discrimination increased 76 percent between 1997 and 2011. Many of these complaints involve allegations of discrimination based on workers' English language proficiency. For example, in one case, a truck driver sued FedEx claiming he was wrongfully fired due to his Russian accent. In another case, an Iraqi native working at a Four Points Sheraton claimed his co-workers mocked him because of his accent and his supervisors did not take appropriate action to remedy the situation; he received a $500,000 settlement.

Former hospital employee sues for wrongful termination

A former employee of a Kaiser Permanente hospital claims she was fired for reporting sexual harassment and for taking medical leave to care for her sick spouse. The woman's wrongful termination lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, marks the 46th time the health care consortium has faced employment litigation in 2012. The most recent lawsuit also names the woman's co-worker as a defendant.The woman began working at the hospital in 2001 as a nursing assistant and later received a promotion to unit assistant. In her court complaint, she claims a male co-worker, also a unit assistant, told her to look at his genitals in 2009. The complaint alleges the man previously had engaged in similar conduct towards other female employees but the hospital failed to take any action to address their complaints.

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