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.

The woman further claims she received a doctor’s authorization to take three days of family medical leave a month to care for her husband, who had been hospitalized for heart disease. After submitting the doctor’s certification to the hospital, she took two days of FMLA leave on Nov. 24 and Dec., 1, 2010. Two weeks later, the hospital fired her for calling in sick on those days. She claims the discharge was in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment and for taking leave. The woman is seeking damages resulting from her discharge as well as punitive damages.

It is illegal under both California and federal employment law to discharge a worker in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. If an employee is fired shortly after doing either of these things, the employee would benefit from consulting with an experienced wrongful termination attorney.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Worker Claims Kaiser Fired Her Unfairly,” Philip A. Janquart, Dec. 20, 2012