In recent news, a California state court jury awarded $492,000 to a former medical assistant who accused Kaiser Permanente of wrongful termination. Maria Gonzalez claims that the company illegally fired her in order to avoid costly medical treatment her disabled son required. The jury award came after the company attempted to resolve the case several times with settlement offers, the largest of which was $15,000 according to the plaintiff’s attorney.
The jury reached a verdict after a two-week trial. They found that Kaiser’s behavior constituted disability discrimination in terminating Gonzalez in 2014. Gonzalez worked in a pain management clinic. Kaiser claims that she was fired for unauthorized access of her son, Pedro’s, medical records while he was receiving treatment in the clinic.
The jury’s award encompasses past and future economic damages. While the jury declined to award the requested $7 million in non-economic damages, plaintiff’s legal counsel saw the verdict as a positive result for Gonzalez. It should also be noted that Kaiser would also be required to cover attorney fees reaching into the seven figures.
History of the Case:
· Gonzalez received 11 years of positive performance reviews from Kaiser.
· The positive reviews continued until her son, Pedro, needed treatment for a chronic kidney disorder.
· Pedro received coverage through Kaiser. Gonzalez repeatedly sought referrals to specialists outside of Kaiser’s network.
· When a major operation failed to help Pedro, Gonzalez pushed for a second, more expensive surgery.
· Allegedly, when Pedro complained about the quality of care he was receiving, a Kaiser physician responded with, “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your mother, would you?” Kaiser later denied such a statement was made.
Gonzalez is happy with the verdict, but may seek further resolution as legal counsel sees the $0 award is contrary to the law.
If you need further information about wrongful termination of you feel you may have been the victim of wrongful termination, please contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.