SAN DIEGO: Nurses Sue Children’s Hospital for Age Discrimination
Four former nurses at San Diego's Children's Hospital and Health Center are suing the facility, alleging it "eliminated their jobs and illegally created new positions as a way of circumventing anti-age bias laws." The plaintiffs -- Marilyn Ramey, Patricia Crawford, Janet Sundstrom and Bonnie Kenney -- ranged in age from 57 to 64 when the suit was filed on Jan. 8. The plaintiffs say they were told that their positions as nursing supervisors/patient service liaisons were "being eliminated as a result of the ongoing re-engineering process." The notice cited "the current health care environment and financial constraints" as the reason for the decision. But the nurses claim the hospital advertised for a new position they were unqualified to fill before delivering the notices. They could have undergone training to qualify for the new positions, but by the time they completed the requirements, some of the plaintiffs would have reached retirement age. After the women filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and their lawyer, Rod Toothacre, contacted the hospital, the job description was changed and the nurses were asked to apply. Toothacre said the hospital's actions were "disingenuous," adding, "We believe that [the new position] was a pretext to get rid of them." But Larry Nuffer, director of communications at Children's, said the new job was "created to add clinical components that were missing from the plaintiff's old positions." He said the hospital offered to waive the criteria of one year critical care experience and offered to reassign the women or give them a severance package. After they declined all three offers, they were fired. Toothacre said the two sides are negotiating to enter a mediation venue (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.