A former registered nurse at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena has settled a lawsuit in which he alleged he was fired for complaining about being discriminated against because of his medical condition, which he feared could be compromised further by the coronavirus.
Lawyers for plaintiff Robert Young filed court papers on July 14 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa Traber stating that the case was resolved. No terms were revealed.
Young brought the suit in June 2020, alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
Young was hired at the hospital in October 2016 and was an exemplary employee whose hours and pay increased over time, according to his court papers. In April 2020, he sought treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, and his doctor ordered him not to treat the hospital’s COVID-19 patients, according to his suit.
Young says he sought time off under the California Family Rights Act due to his health and his request was approved May 15, 2020. But in early June of that year, hospital management “began to single out plaintiff and criticize his performance,” the suit alleged.
After Young complained of discrimination and retaliation, management reacted by firing him, saying he did not have a required bachelor’s degree in nursing, according to his court papers. Management knew when he was hired that he did not have such a degree and that other RNs who work there also do not, so raising an issue about his education was a “pretext for discrimination,” the suit alleged.
Although Young told hospital management about his health and provided notes from his doctors documenting his claims, no effort was made to accommodate him for his condition, the suit alleged.
But in their court papers, hospital lawyers said Young’s firing was justified.
“This case is simple and straightforward,” the defense attorneys argued in their court papers. “Robert Young never obtained a bachelor of science degree in nursing which was a written condition of his employment with Huntington Memorial Hospital even though he had three years to do so. Consequently, he was terminated from his employment for failing to meet the conditions of his employment.”
Young admitted that he sought the family medical leave only “as a prophylactic and preventative measure due to the COVID pandemic,” the hospital attorneys stated in their court papers.
“(Young’s) termination was based solely on his failure to remain a qualified employee for his position and had nothing to do with any alleged disability,” according to the defense lawyers’ court papers.