A woman who says she rose from the rank of housekeeper to registered nurse during more than three decades of service at Huntington Memorial Hospital is suing the Pasadena medical center, alleging she was discriminated against because she is a Latina and was fired earlier this year on false claims of unprofessional conduct.
Martha Beltran’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit filed Friday seeks unspecified damages.
A hospital spokeswoman said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.
Beltran began working at the hospital in November 1984 as a housekeeper and was promoted to other positions such as secretary and scrub technician before graduating from nursing school and obtaining a a bachelor’s degree, according to her court papers. She says she worked the night shift as a registered nurse from January 2001 until May 2003 and later became a charge nurse and nursing instructor.
“The first 34 years of plaintiff’s employment at HHM were positive,” according to her lawsuit, which says she never received any written reprimands before October 2017, when two new supervisors were named to oversee Beltran’s department.
After that date, the suit alleges, Latino and black nurses started being singled out, targeted, harassed, given poor performance evaluations, removed from advisory boards and been denied promotions. Beltran maintains that during the same month of the supervisorial change, she was given a verbal reprimand based on an allegedly anonymous complaint made by an employee on a date during which the plaintiff was off work.
In December 2017, Beltran was called to meeting with human resources regarding additional employee grumbling, the suit states. Beltran says she protested that she was being targeted and discriminated against and said that a white nurse who was the subject of a similar complaint was given a fair chance to defend herself, the suit says. Beltran maintains she was denied a similar opportunity to state her case when she requested to do so.
Beltran was again summoned to human resources in January to answer additional anonymous employee complaints, according to her court papers. In the face of the ongoing criticism of her work, Beltran asked for a return to a previous nursing position, but was told the hospital did not allow employees to be demoted, according to her lawsuit.
Beltran was fired later that month for alleged violations of HHM professional conduct based on interviews with “a select few of plaintiff’s co-workers,” the suit states.
Thirteen other fellow workers signed a letter to HHM management contradicting the allegations of the other employees, according to the plaintiffs. Those workers alleged there was a pattern of a small group of white nurses “targeting women of color” and that the complaints against Beltran were racially motivated, according to her lawsuit.
Beltran says she filed an internal grievance protesting she was the victim of racial discrimination and expected that her complaints would be investigated. However, the hospital sent Beltran a letter in February upholding her firing, the suit states.
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