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Kaiser employee's retaliatory discharge claim dismissed

A federal judge has ruled that a California social worker cannot successfully file all claims in a retaliation case against the hospital that fired her because she received a death threat. The woman, who had worked at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, was disciplined because she acted on a rumor that a patient of another therapist said he wanted to murder her. The woman had sought a restraining order against that patient, even though she was subject to disciplinary action because she inappropriately looked at the man's medical records. The woman had been seeking compensation for retaliatory discharge in connection with the case.

Further, the woman alleged that Kaiser Permanente let her go in May 2012 after she reported a dangerous workplace environment. Her employer accused her of permitting a suicidal patient to travel to a hospital without supervision.

The judge in the case dismissed two of eight counts in the matter, determining that breach of contract and retaliation did not occur. He said that the social worker did not provide sufficient evidence that violation of the California Whistleblower Protection Act had occurred in this instance. Further, the woman is not protected by her union's collective-bargaining terms, which expired before the alleged retaliatory actions.

The woman is still seeking financial compensation for emotional distress, wrongful termination, discrimination and a variety of other employment-based concerns. In this case, she is prevented from filing certain claims because of the nature of the evidence. However, since she can still pursue damages for other wrongs, the case has not been dismissed entirely. Victims who have been exposed to workplace safety violations, discrimination or harassment may benefit from consulting a California employment attorney. Those professionals can help workers learn more about their legal rights and provide them with the information they need to maximize the outcome of their cases.

Source: Courthouse New Service, "Ex-Kaiser Worker's Retaliation Claim Nixed" Barbara Leonard, Dec. 26, 2013

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