The Methodist Hospital of Southern California recently found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit over claims of age discrimination and wrongful termination.
A civil lawsuit was recently filed against four former Methodist Hospital of Southern California workers over allegations of “age discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation for protesting inadequate COVID-19 safeguards.” The suit was filed on October 19, 2021, in Los Angeles Superior Court and is seeking unspecified damages for lost and future wages.
The suit was filed on behalf of Fiona John, 59. She worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for the hospital for 18 years and was a “nurse representative and union member with the California Nurses Association.” In the suit, she argues she “endured a culture of harassment, intimidation, and stress before being fired.” Additionally, she alleges “older nurses were more frequently written up under Nursing Supervisor Allison Pineda’s watch, while younger ones who committed similar or worse infractions were not disciplined.” On top of that, she said that “nurses older than 40 were being harassed while younger and inexperienced ones were put in positions of power.”
In an effort to escape the discriminatory treatment, John was transferred to the postpartum unit, but the unit’s supervisor, Tracy Joseph, “created a culture of bullying, favoritism, harassment, and stress.” For example, the suit alleges that Joseph “would insult her as being toxic, intimidating, rude, and aggressive.” Also, it alleges that Joseph would “often forget to turn in time and attendance correction forms John submitted while also disregarding issues she brought to her attention.”
Around April 2021, “John reported an incident in which an unmasked patient refused to wear a mask and demanded a different nurse.” After investigating the incident, John was investigated and, to her shock, terminated on June 17, 2021.
Another nurse, Lisa Marquez, 63, worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She got in trouble when she “voiced concerns over supply shortages, understaffing, harassment of nurses, and non-medical-use masks provided by the hospital.” As a result of voicing her concerns, the hospital “began a paper trail on her that included written disciplinary action for her participation in union activities and extreme scrutiny and monitoring of her work while also denying her paid time off.” Then, in 2020, she took a “protected leave due to a medical condition,” though when she tried to return to work in April 2021, “she was placed on administrative leave and fired the following day,” the suit states.
“Sometimes it can even be unconscious discrimination…But the bottom line is it’s often about dollars and cents. If you can get someone who’s much younger and cheaper…that impacts your bottom line.”
The suit further described the hospital’s conduct “as a patchwork of age-related discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.” It also states that the “employees performed their duties in a competent and efficient manner within company rules and policies.” Hilaire added:
“These kinds of legal actions can often make employers, especially the large ones, change their practices to ensure that policies are being uniformly applied.”