Four former nurses at Arcadia Methodist Hospital: Fiona John, Shelly Perks, Lisa Marquez, and Harold Hayes have filed an 18-page wrongful termination complaint dated Oct. 8 against the administration of the hospital for numerous contentions of age discrimination, harassment based on age, violation of health and safety codes, and retaliation.
The complaint filed contends that Methodist discriminated against the nurses on the basis of age. Methodist “willfully and intentionally engaged in a course of conduct designed to harass and intimidate Plaintiff by, among other things, terminating older employees and nurses above the age of 40, and replacing them with younger nurses and employees,” according to court documents obtained by Beacon Media Monday.
The complaint says that Methodist “acted with oppression, fraud, malice, and in the conscious disregard of Plaintiffs’ rights, entitling Plaintiffs to punitive damages in an amount according to proof at the time of trial, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to California Government Code section 12965(b).”
Fiona John, a 59-year-old nurse worked in labor and delivery and then post-partum at Methodist in Arcadia, is one of the plaintiffs. According to the suit, “On or about late 2015, Allison Pineda became Methodist Hospital’s Supervising Nurse in the Labor and Delivery Unit. Ms. Pineda immediately created a culture of harassment, intimidation, and stress, and she singled out older workers for the worst abuse. Ms. Pineda’s conduct affected not only John, but also the morale of her entire team. Multiple nurses quit due to Ms. Pineda’s behavior, and one nurse filed a complaint of harassment against her.”
Between 2017 and prior to her termination in 2021, “John submitted numerous MIDAS (an incident reporting system) reports regarding issues surrounding the Health and Safety of employees. She forwarded additional Health and Safety concerns regarding COVID-19 protocols, Personal Protective Equipment, lack of non-medical masks provided by Methodist, staffing issues, and patient care issues. Plaintiff John submitted her complaints to Tracy Joseph and to Human Resources department personnel including Director John Peeples. On or around April 2021, Plaintiff John reported a patient care issue in which an unmasked patient refused to put their mask on and demanded a different nurse. Despite Plaintiff John’s de-escalation of the situation and reporting of the event, Plaintiff John was put through an investigatory process and terminated on June 17, 2021,” states the suit.
ICU nurse Shelly Perks, 46, was also terminated and is part of the joint lawsuit. Perks felt that she was being discriminated and harassed because of her age and due to multiple instances of speaking out in regard to health and safety concerns. “Perks noticed a pattern and practice of older managers being harassed, ridiculed and picked on due to their age,” the suit claims. “Older nurses were being more frequently written up in order to be pushed out of Methodist. Nurses that spoke out against Health and Safety concerns were also consistently written up and pushed out.”
In or about November 2020, Methodist allegedly asked Perks to submit to tuberculosis testing to continue employment and she complied and reported back to Methodist to receive her results. “Upon the completion of her test, she reported the time as required. Soon after her time report and on or around November 2020, Plaintiff Perks was reprimanded by her supervisor, Ms. Pettway, for reporting time required for testing,” according to the suit. “Despite the corroboration of fellow staff nurses and Plaintiff Perks’ admission that she mistakenly reported the time as AM instead of PM, Plaintiff Perks was put through an investigation and subsequently terminated.”
Lisa Marquez, 63, was a nurse at the (NICU) unit. Marquez allegedly brought up numerous health and safety concerns regarding baby assessment nurses, expired and/or shortages of NICU supplies, staffing issues, harassment of nurse team members, and issues around COVID-19 personal protective equipment such as non-medical-use masks provided by Methodist. Marquez allegedly attempted to return to work or about April 21, 2021 after a medical leave. “Immediately upon her return, she was notified that she had been placed on administrative leave. The next day, on April 22, 2021, Plaintiff Marquez was provided with a termination package,” the complaint states.
Between 2020 and 2021, 59-year-old Harold Hayes, another plaintiff, “brought up Health and Safety concerns with Lance Yamanaka and Najib Elsouki due to the lack of staffing on at least six to ten (6 to 10) occasions where Hayes and other staff were unable to take their rest and meal breaks. Plaintiff Hayes additionally signed onto a letter to the Board of Directors regarding issues surrounding COVID-19 protocol,” according to the complaint.
On or about June 21, 2021, Hayes was working in an understaffed department, allegedly unable to take any rest or meal breaks, and made a mistake in scanning and corrected as was protocol but was unable to report it until his next shift, according to the complaint. Hayes was then placed on suspension and told there would be an investigative meeting the following day, the suit claims.
“Plaintiff Hayes is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that on June 23, 2021 he was written up for termination in an effort to force him out of the company based on his age. After nearly 36 years in this position and with only two (2) prior write-ups, Plaintiff Hayes was terminated for a mistake that had been corrected,” according to the complaint.
As result of the “wrongful conduct of Methodist, Plaintiffs have suffered and continue to suffer substantial losses in earnings and other employment benefits in an amount according to proof at the time of trial. As a further proximate result of the wrongful conduct of Methodist, Plaintiffs have suffered and continue to suffer humiliation, lack of self-confidence, embarrassment, emotional distress and mental anguish, all to their damage in an amount according to proof at the time of trial. 100. In doing the acts herein alleged, Methodist acted with oppression, fraud, malice and in conscious disregard of the rights of Plaintiffs, and Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount according to proof at the time of trial,” the joint lawsuit states
When asked for comment Tuesday, Brian Greene, director of marketing and business development at Methodist Hospital of Southern California, said the hospital had “No comment with respect to ongoing litigation.”