A 63 year old woman is suing Kaiser Permanente on grounds that she was passed up for a promotion because of her age and race.
The woman is named Sharon Veazie. Veazie has worked for Kaiser since 1989 as a pathologist assistant. Her duties as a pathologist assistant cover all of those required of someone employed in the position above hers – a tissue technician. Although the work required of the two positions is similar, tissue technicians are required to have a more extensive educational background and make $4-$5 more dollars per hour.
Veazie does not currently meet the educational requirements to be a tissue technician, but there’s a catch: Kaiser has a history of promoting pathologist assistants to tissue technicians and giving them 18 months to meet the education requirements for the position. When two tissue technician positions opened up in Veazie’s area, she applied. As a Kaiser employee of 24 years who already did all of the work required of the position she was aiming for, she thought herself a great candidate. True, she did not meet the educational requirements of the position, but she figured she would be extended the same 18-month window to meet them just as others in her place were.
Not only was Veazie passed up for the position, but she was placed in charge of training the 22 year old recent college graduate who was hired in her place. Veazie was more than capable of performing the job of a tissue technician. She would not have been given the responsibility of training the new employee otherwise. She came to the conclusion that she was being discriminated against for either her age or her race.
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In accordance with California law, Veazie filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her complaint was approved, and a Right to Sue was issued to her. According to the lawsuit, her issues with discrimination at Kaiser reach back much further than being overlooked for a promotion. From the lawsuit:
"During the course of plaintiff's employment with defendant Kaiser, plaintiff was subjected to racial harassment by Defendant Kaiser, through persistent humiliating, offensive and derogatory remarks, devaluing her education background, ability, experience and promotional worth based on race. The harassment was sufficiently pervasive so as to alter the conditions of plaintiff's employment, creating an abusive and isolative working environment for plaintiff.”
Veazie seeks orders from the court to eliminate workplace discrimination at Kaiser as well as compensatory and punitive damages. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, over 90,000 discriminatory charges were filed nationwide in 2012.