CONCISE SUMMARY OF THE CASE

January 3, 2024

CONCISE SUMMARY OF THE CASE

This is a concise summary of the pertinent facts of the case: Esther Tenao Atam v. Southern
California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), et al., Case No. 21STCV41538:

1. Plaintiff commenced employment with Defendants SCPMG (formerly sued as
Kaiser Foundation of Hospitals, on or about January 20, 2020.
2. During the time Plaintiff was employed by Defendant, she held the position of
Emergency Room Registered Nurse where she performed all workplace duties within the scope
of her expertise and knowledge. Plaintiff performed her duties as a registered nurse with care,
diligence, and competence, having been a licensed nurse for many years prior to her employment
the Defendants.
3. Plaintiffs duties as a registered nurse working in the emergency room at SCPMG
included caring for the hospital’s patients, administering IVs, making patients’ beds, supervising
patients’ recovery and health, and other tasks which are typical for a registered nurse working in
an emergency room in a hospital.
4. Throughout the course of Plaintiffs employment with Defendants, she was subject
to a number of acts in violation of California employment discrimination laws, including
disability discrimination, gender discrimination, racial and national origin discrimination,
national origin harassment, and sexual harassment. These acts were perpetrated both by the
management at IMISER.
5. On or about August 2020, Plaintiff began complaining to Sarah Poetter, her
supervisor, about bullying she had been subjected to by one of her colleagues, Xavier Edwards,
who worked alongside Plaintiff at SCPMG. Such bullying and harassment consisted of a number
of incidents. For example, on or about August 28, 2020, Plaintiff was engaged in a casual
conversation with Mr. Edwards when she mentioned that she had been harassed by two males
within the last year at another job she held before. At the time, Plaintiff considered Mr. Edwards
to be a friend since they often worked in the same shift as nurses.

6. Plaintiff later discovered, however, that Mr. Edwards had been spreading rumors
about Plaintiff to other co-workers, telling them that they should "watch out" for Plaintiff since
she had complained about sexual harassment at another job. From that point on, Mr. Edwards
began picking on, bullying, and harassing Plaintiff.
7. Plaintiff first reported Mr. Edwards’ conduct to her supervisors on or about June
2, 2020, after one such incident. During this incident, Xavier Edwards followed closely behind
Plaintiff in the hallway, getting so close to her that Plaintiff could feel his breath on her neck.
8. He would often try to deliberately give the impression that Plaintiff was not
performing her job competently, such as yelling in the nurse’s room "where is [Plaintiff]," even
though Plaintiff was close by.
9. Mr. Edwards would also make negative remarks about Plaintiff to the hospital’s
patients in an effort to discredit her and make her appear as incompetent and incapable of
performing her duties as a nurse.
10. Mr. Edwards did this persistently and continuously, often coming to the patient’s
room, apparently for the sole purpose of making it appear that Plaintiff was not providing
adequate care for her patients.
11. Throughout this time, Mr. Edwards was focused on sabotaging Plaintiffs work
and focused on discrediting her and destroying her reputation in the hospital.
12. On other occasions, Mr. Edwards would loudly remark that Plaintiff "looked
high" and would remark on whether she was smoking marijuana while on the job.
13. On other occasions, Mr. Edwards would stare down Plaintiff as they passed in the
hallway and would stare at her if Plaintiff was compelled to walk over to his area, which was
often necessary, such as, for example, when she needed to retrieve medication from
the medication carts.
14. The cumulative effect of Mr. Edwards’ actions inflicted severe emotional distress
on Plaintiff and destroyed her sense of security while employed at the hospital, placing her in
fear of physical harm and negatively impacting her ability to competently and professionally care

for her patients, which she had always striven so hard to do.
15. Yet despite Plaintiffs repeated complaints, the supervisors at SCPMG, took no
action to prevent Mr. Edwards from harassing Plaintiff, and effectively committed such activities
to occur, thereby effectively endorsing Mr. Edwards’ harassment of Plaintiff.
16. Plaintiff also endured discrimination and harassment from the senior levels of the
IMISER staff, culminating in her wrongful termination on or about March 18, 2021. The
problems commenced in or about August 2020, when Plaintiff was asked to leave work by Sarah
Poetter, and told she could only return to work with a clearance note from a psychologist. The
reason given for demanding that Plaintiff leave the work premises was that she was mentally
unstable and unfit to function in her role as an emergency room nurse.
17. Plaintiff believes that these actions by the management at SCPMG were acts of
retaliation against her and their effort to portray her as mentally unbalanced because she had
complained about bullying by her co-worker, Xavier Edwards.
18. Furthermore, Plaintiff believes that her mistreatment was substantially motivated
by hostility to her ethnic background and foreign accent, and for this reason,
Defendants attempted to portray Plaintiff as having suffered a psychotic break and also portray
her as unfit to work as a registered nurse.
19. On or about September 8, 2020, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, complaining about the harassment against her
perpetrated by her supervisor, Sarah Poetter (deceased), and another supervisor, Cheryl Suina.
20. On or about September 9, 2020, an EEOC investigator, Lourdes Keppel,
contacted Plaintiff and advised her that she was investigating her complaint and would reach out
to her shortly.
21. In the meantime, Plaintiff continued to receive phone calls from a few of her co-
workers advising her that Xavier Edwards was continuing to spread rumors about her, claiming
that she was psychotic and that she was mentally unstable.
22. In light of the foregoing, Plaintiff presents the following arguments, which show

the blameworthy conduct of the Defendants, and how Plaintiff herself was hurt by the said
conduct:

 The Defendant’s HR disability manager, Wilbert Jones, directed Plaintiff to be
evaluated by a forensic psychiatrist. It is only a treating psychologist that can
make this referral. Plaintiff even asked for their fitness for duty policy and was
told they did not have one but were following legal guidelines. Plaintiff then
informed Wilbert Jones that it was not within his scope to make such a referral.
 On November 13, 2020, Plaintiff reviewed the bizarre emails that were sent to
Kaiser and validated her response. She understood the rage and how this
completely pushed her over the edge because the Defendant’s employees were
toying with her livelihood and life. Notably, Plaintiff had to stay at home for
almost three months for no reason, even after she had submitted a clearance note.
She was then invited back for an interview, only to be formally suspended. They
did this in total disregard of the clearance note, and the fact that she was being
bullied. The psychologist not only medically cleared Plaintiff. It is also
noteworthy that Plaintiff suggested she be moved to another department or Kaiser
branch, as any continued interaction with these people who caused this trauma,
will only exacerbate her trauma. They ignored her.
 The RN received Plaintiff’s medical records on or about 08/03/2021. They
ignored the psychologist progress notes and instead used ‘hearsay’ to order a
psychiatric evaluation on 07/14/2022, which is almost a year after they received
Plaintiff’s medical records and almost two years after the said incident.
 Plaintiff has been deeply traumatized and has suffered serious emotional distress
by the actions of SCPMG’s management and their failure to adequately supervise
their employees and to protect those employees who are targets of harassment,
bullying, and abuse. Plaintiff has also suffered financially due to having been
wrongfully terminated from her employment on or about March 8, 2021.

 Defendants engaged in a calculated program of discrimination, harassment,
retaliation, and creation of a hostile work environment against Plaintiff due to her
psychological disability status in violation of the California Fair Employment and
Housing Act. Furthermore, Plaintiff was also subject to discriminatory treatment
which was motivated by racial discrimination and national origin discrimination
and due to the fact that Plaintiff speaks English with a foreign accent and is of
Cameroonian background.
 Defendants have also committed a number of other violations of the FEHA,
including failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate
Plaintiffs disability, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and
retaliation, wrongful termination, and the creation of a hostile work
environment.
 Plaintiff is informed and believes that the decision-maker(s) wrongfully
terminated her from her employment and subjected her to discrimination and
harassment due to her racial- ethnic background and foreign accent, as well as
due to her disability. In doing so, Defendants subjected Plaintiff to a hostile work
environment culminating in her wrongful termination.
 Plaintiff has also suffered emotional distress due to the negative treatment she was
subjected to, including stress and anxiety. Prior to filing her Complaint,
Plaintiff fulfilled any legal requirement or exhausted any administrative remedy
imposed on her by having filed the substance of claims alleged herein with the
California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (hereinafter "DFEH"),
and has received a Right to Sue Letter from the DFEH. Plaintiff has therefore
substantially complied with all requirements for the filing of this Complaint and
has exhausted Plaintiffs administrative remedies prior to filing, commencing, and
serving the within action.
 Plaintiff has been able to maintain other nursing jobs, with absolutely no issue,

but still had a mental break down again in March of 2022. She had a similar
episode in March 2021 and was diagnosed with acute stress reaction from MLK.
The episode in March 2022, was triggered by the fact that, she was made aware
that attorney at the time was colluding with Kaiser and the realization that she
would no longer have representation. This was overwhelming. Plaintiff was faced
with the fact that she will have to find a way to move her case forward on her
own.

Sincerely,

___________________

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