TRIAL BRIEF

January 8, 2024

Esther Tenao Atam
13621 Arcturus Ave.
Gardena, CA 90249
Natashchan1@yahoo.com

Plaintiff in Pro Per

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

ESTHER TENAO ATAM,
Plaintiff
vs.
KAISER FOUNDATION OF
HOSPITALS, et al.
Defendants

Case No.: 21STCV41538
Judge: Honorable Steven J. Kleifield

TRIAL BRIEF

TO THE COURT, ALL PARTIES AND THEIR COUNSEL OF RECORD:
Plaintiff, ESTHER TENAO ATAM (“Plaintiff”) proceeding Pro Se, hereby submits this
Trial Brief for this Court’s consideration:
(a) INTRODUCTION
This case relates to the mistreatment of Plaintiff at the Defendant’s facility. First, Plaintiff
alleges that she was subjected to discriminatory conduct by the management. She was also
harassed when she received emails from the Human Resource Manager that were meant to
question her sanity. She also faced emotional abuse when she was discredited by her manager.
Further, rumors about her mental health were spread in the work place. Lastly, her employment
was wrongfully and/or unfairly terminated.

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(b) LEGAL AND FACTUAL ISSUES
i. Discrimination
Title VII provides that an employer cannot discriminate against "any individual" based on
his or her "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a).
Because the antidiscrimination objectives and relevant wording of title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) [(42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.)] are similar to those of the FEHA,
California courts often look to federal decisions interpreting these statutes for assistance in
interpreting the FEHA. See, Los Angeles County Dept. of Parks & Recreation v. Civil Service
Com. (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 273, 280 [10 Cal.Rptr.2d 150]; Fisher v. San Pedro Peninsula
Hospital (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 590, 606 [262 Cal.Rptr. 842]; 8 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law
(9th ed. 1988) Constitutional Law, § 759, pp. 255-259.
In a discrimination claim, the plaintiff does not need substantial evidence of
discriminatory intent. Johnson v. Andy Frain Servs., Inc., No. 15-1143, 2016 WL 210098, at *1
(2d Cir. Jan. 19, 2016). Rather, what must be plausibly supported by the facts alleged in the
Complaint is that the plaintiff is a member of a protected class, was qualified, suffered an
adverse employment action, and has at least minimal support for the proposition that the
employer was motivated by discriminatory intent." Id. See Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch.
Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 84, 86 (2d Cir. 2015).
Allegations of a racially hostile work-place must be assessed from the perspective of a
reasonable person belonging to the racial, ethnic, or religious group of the plaintiff. McGinest v.
GTE Serv. Corp. (9th Cir. 2004) 360 F.3d 1103, 1115.
Plaintiff asserts that she is from Cameroon, a country in central Africa where the practice
of the religion of voodoo is commonplace and in its malignant forms, the use of “black magic” to
harm another is so pervasive to the point that there are laws sanctioning against voodoo. For
example, one can be sentenced and jailed for 5 years if they try to harm others through
supernatural means.

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The incidence that formed the basis of this claim happened on August 28th, 2020. The
particulars of the Plaintiff’s experiences in chronological order are as follows:
August 28, 2022
On or about August 28, 2022, Plaintiff expressed to her manager, Sarah Potter, her
concerns of bullying by fellow employee Xavier Edwards. Given her religious and cultural
background, Plaintiff only stated what she felt were all within her realm of possible explanations
of her bizarre coincidental car accidents. Plaintiff avers that the fears were valid to her. She
never sought to make any definite claims, but simply wanted to be heard. Since this topic was
completely out of the realm of understanding of Sarah, she not only told Plaintiff promptly and
harshly that she could not help her, but also proceeded to immediately ask Plaintiff to get a
psychiatric evaluation and clearance before she could return to work. Plaintiff was immediately
asked to leave the work premises (Kaiser Permanente West LA) on the basis that she was
mentally unstable and unfit to function as an ER nurse. In shock at how quickly the situation had
escalated, Plaintiff asked how this was fair, and Sarah’s response was that she had no answers at
the moment and that Plaintiff needed to vacate the premises and not to return until she had a
psychiatric clearance note. Accordingly, her shifts for August 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st and 31st,
were canceled with no information about when she could return to work. She was further told
that Plaintiffn order to return to work, she needed a clearance note from a psychiatrist. It follows;
Sarah Potter perceived Plaintiff as having a ‘psychotic break’.
Plaintiff was never formally placed on suspension, but was only given a verbal dismissal
to follow up with psychiatry and bring back a clearance note in order to return to work. Kendra,
HR contact, stated that a psychiatric evaluation was recommended based on her communication
with Plaintiff’s manager. On the same day, the ACD Isabelle confirmed to Plaintiff over the
phone that she was given instructions to not let Plaintiff back to work without the psychiatric
evaluation. There was never any follow up from HR to again clarify this misinformation and so
Plaintiff did what she was asked to do, by three different ACD’s. Plaintiff had expected Sarah to
be more compassionate and uphold Kaiser’s guiding principles of respect in the way they

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addressed the situation because she was a manager. However, it was clearly evident that Sarah
was culturally insensitive.
Plaintiff was humiliated because this scene took place in front of the nurses’ lounge. She
felt so insulted and disrespected that Plaintifft took her four hours in the parking lot to go hoher
to her daughter. Further, the entire incident humiliated Plaintiff, and she felt discriminated
against when she was merely trying to express her concerns. Moreover, Sherry was never able to
demonstrate how Plaintiff’s actions that day affected Plaintiff’s productivity as all of Plaintiff’s
patients were safe and taken care of. Plaintiff hade never used any harmful speech, or
demonstrated any odd behavior on the unit, nor did she appear disheveled or out of place.
Besides, she showed up to work on time. Given that Plaintiff has no record of prior mental health
issues, the humiliation and frustration caused by such a categorization made her feel stigmatized.
On that same day, Plaintiff spoke with two union reps – Mike Zackos and Marla Hunt
who suggested that Plaintiff follows up with a psychiatrist as recommended by her ED manager
and use her sick hours for the shifts canceled. After explaining to Mike that she had no
insurance and did not know where to go, he sent Plaintiff a text message with several
recommendations for psychotherapy and Plaintiff was directed to follow up with Kaiser Water
Ridge Mental Health. Plaintiff therefore got a psychiatric evaluation on September 2, 2020,
which she had to pay out of pocket for, and received the clearance note on September 4, 2022,
which was never acknowledged.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) prohibits employers from
requiring their workers to undergo medical exams unless the exam is “shown to be job-related
and consistent with business necessity.” However, an employer may require an employee to
undergo a mental health examination if the employee’s behavior raises questions about the
employee’s ability to perform essential job-related functions or raises a safety concern. Plaintiff
avers that the facts that day were that she interacted with several people that morning, (Kevin,
Plaintiff’s nurse friend, and Dr. Machete, MD in purple team) and not one of these individuals
stopped to question her because there was nothing odd about her behavior.

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August 31, 2020
On August 31st, Plaintiff had a follow-up visitation at the Kaiser Water Ridge Mental
Health. She was evaluated by a licensed therapist that stated that she did not meet the criteria for
a psychiatric consult. Plaintiff requested that this information be shared with her ED managers
and she was informed that she would have to follow up with HR as this is not their protocol to
disclose any information about her mental health. Plaintiff further asked if she could receive
something in writing to show her ED managers, and once again, she was re-directed to follow
up with HR.
September 2, 2020
On September 1st, Plaintiff contacted Kendra Keyes, an HR consultant and informed her
that she (Plaintiff) had consulted with EAP and Kaiser Water Ridge Mental Health, but was not
given a clearance note. Kendra informed Plaintiff that after speaking with Mike Zackos and
Sarah Poetter, it was recommended, that she should have a mental health evaluation assessment,
but she would not be required to bring back a clearance note. Plaintiff asked Kendra whether this
was really the case, and why had her manager not called her to inform her of this. Plaintiff then
informed Kendra that she had already scheduled a mental health evaluation for September 2,
2020 and that she would call ER to speak with the supervisor in charge regarding her status on
returning to work.
Plaintiff spoke with Isabelle ACD (another ER nurse supervisor), who told Plaintiff that
she received instructions from Sherry and Sarah (both ED supervisors, that dismissed Plaintiff on
Aug 28th) not to allow Plaintiff back to work without a mental health clearance note. Plaintiff
informed Isabelle, that she had a mental health evaluation scheduled for September 2, 2020, and
that she had just had a talk with HR, who insisted that a clearance note was not obligatory. She
had no response. Relentless, Plaintiff then called HR again to alert her that she was receiving
conflicting messages regarding her return to work and that she would keep her current
appointment until it was clear whether or not a clearance note was required, since it was difficult
to get an appointment on such short notice due to COVID-19. She stated that she would reach

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out to Plaintiff’s ED manager and get back to her (Plaintiff). However, Plaintiff never heard back
from HR. She also reached out to Marla Hunt (union rep), to complain that she was not being
properly guided through this process and that her ED manager had yet to call or send an email to
clarify what exactly is required. She never received a response from Marla clarifying the terms
for her to return to work.
September 4, 2020
A clearance note was sent on Sept 4 th as requested by Plaintiff’s ED manager and two
different ED supervisors. Plaintiff never received a response to the clearance note. She contacted
the HR twice, and left a message for Brice Sikuade with his secretary Remi regarding Plaintiff’s
work status and never received a call back. Plaintiff made multiple calls to check the status of
this issue since she was not sure who else to follow up with.
Plaintiff received no follow up as to when she could return to work despite multiple
attempts to clarify this. Instead, she received an email from HR stating that ‘no clearance note
was ever requested by the employers and was reminded regarding ‘call offs’ and of KPs
Regional Attendance guidelines which require MD certification flowing three consecutive
callouts. This was very confusing to Plaintiff as she had been told not to return to work and I
received conflicting information and in some cases no information about the condition for my
return to work.
September 8, 2020
Sarah Poetter requested a meeting with Plaintiff, HR and union reps to discuss other
concerns surrounding Plaintiff’s return to work. Plaintiff was very apprehensive of the meeting
with her because during the last meeting with her, she had perceived Plaintiff to be having a
psychotic break. Plaintiff requested that someone other than her and the same HR representative
(Kendra Keyes) who informed Plaintiff that no one ever asked Plaintiff to get a mental health
evaluation altogether, be present for that meeting. Sara never responded to this request. All
Plaintiff’s shifts September through October were being cancelled.

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On September 8, 2020, Plaintiff filed an internal EEO complaint with allegations of
harassment and Discrimination by her ED supervisors Sarah Poetter and Cheryl Suma.
September 9, 2020
The EEOC Investigator – Lourdes Keppel reached out to Plaintiff regarding the
complaint filed acknowledging receipt and indicating the desire to set up a meeting with Plaintiff
to discuss the details surrounding the incident.
September 14, 2020
On September 14 th , Lourdes reached out to Plaintiff again and informed her that she was
going to look into her complaint for discrimination and that her investigation would take 2-3
months and sent Plaintiff a laundry list of things that Plaintiff should not do to interrupt her
investigation.
In the meantime, Plaintiff started receiving phone calls from concerned co-workers
regarding toxic gossip from Xavier Edwards, the very bully who Plaintiff reported twice for
bullying. He was now openly talking about Plaintiff’s mental health and telling everyone in the
ED that Plaintiff had a psychotic break, describing her as mentally unstable and talking to
voodoo spirits that he sent chasing her. Plaintiff was traumatized that her mental health was now
being openly discussed in the ED and saw Plaintiff sent an email to Sarah Poetter suggesting that
she will be sending her a formal letter of resignation. She quickly responded to that email
accepting Plaintiff’s resignation, never once mentioning anything about Plaintiff’s mental health
clearance note.
Generally, Plaintiff felt like she was being stonewalled by Sarah Poetter, HR, and
compliance that either ignored all her communications requesting more information as to when
she could return to work or providing Plaintiff with conflicting information. Sarah Poetter did
not respond to any of Plaintiff’s emails except the one mentioning resignation. Plaintiff contacted
HR twice in regard to when she could come back to work, and she received no response from
them. Plaintiff contacted compliance three times to report that she was left in limbo with no clear

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direction if allowed to come back to work. All of Plaintiff’s scheduled shifts from August –
October were cancelled.
ii. Retaliation
To determine whether an adverse employment action occurred because "even minor acts
of retaliation can be sufficiently ‘substantial in gross’ to be actionable," Collazo v. County of
Suffolk, 163 F. Supp. 3d 27, 52 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (quoting Burlington N., 548 U.S. at 67-69
California law prohibits harassment in the workplace, whether it be sexual harassment or
non-sexual harassment. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, found in Government
Code 12940, employees who experience harassment may have the right to sue their employer for
damages. Further, as long as the harassment occurs in a work-related context, the employer is
liable”. Doev. Capital Cities (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1038, 1051 [58 Cal.Rptr.2d 122].
Plaintiff asserts that she was retaliated against by the actions of the managers of the
Defendant’s institution, when she raised certain issues that concerned her. The following
chronology of events shows how Plaintiff was retaliated against.
October 1, 2020
Plaintiff sent a letter to Sarah Poetter’s boss, Brooke Hall, on October 1 st , to request she
look into the matter and aid with resolution.
October 22, 2020
After multiple calls to HR and compliance with no response, HR finally reached out to
Plaintiff and conducted a two-hour zoom interview on October 22 to investigate the details
surrounding the events of August 28 th . Plaintiff was informed there would be another follow-up
meeting to address her concerns. The HR also asked if Plaintiff had had a change of address,
inquiring why she never received a formal suspension letter from her manager. Plaintiff
explained it was a verbal dismissal, which both union reps, Mike Zackos and Marla Hunt were
aware of. The meeting was attended by the ED Manager, Sarah Poetter, ED Manager Supervisor
– Brooke Hall, Union Reps – Eve Villero and Emily Mmeje, and HR Consultant – Brice
Sikuade.

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November 6, 2020
On November 6 th , there was another meeting with HR, Sarah Poetter and Union reps.
During this meeting, Plaintiff tried to bring up her concerns surrounding the harassment
complaint and her mental health clearance note they received back on Sep 4 th . However, that was
dismissed and Plaintiff was told that the meeting was strictly to discuss Plaintiff’s continued
employment at Kaiser and to address issues surrounding Plaintiff’s return to work.
Eva Villero was one of the two union reps present when management stated that in order
to correct this illegal suspension, they would need to formally suspend Plaintiff and would use
level 2 medication error that had happened in August prior to her suspension, to now place her
on suspension. When the union reps voiced their concern that Plaintiff was already on
‘suspension’ and that based on their knowledge of such matters, it is not customary to suspend
for level 2 medication errors, HR interjected and stated that every case is different; and that the
suspension would only be from November 6th until the next meeting on November 10th, at
which point they would take Plaintiff off suspension. During this meeting, Plaintiff refused to
sign the suspension as she was not given an opportunity to respond to the level 2 medication
error as is customary and so another meeting was scheduled for November 10 th . After this
meeting on November 6th, funds were deposited into Plaintiff’s bank account for less than half
of Plaintiff’s 25 cancelled shifts (Plaintiff has copies of all the shifts cancelled).
November 10, 2020
During the meeting with management on November 10 th , which was a follow-up meeting
from November 6th, they harassed Plaintiff to sign the level 2 suspension disciplinary action, and
when Plaintiff refused to sign, escalated to a level 3 suspension and they stated that if continued
to refuse to sign, they would continue to escalate disciplinary action until they decided to fire
Plaintiff on spot.
In addition, Plaintiff’s union reps, aware that they would not be physically present at this
meeting, as they were during the meeting on November 6, failed to disclose this to Plaintiff
before showing up to the meeting. Plaintiff walked into the meeting to face HR, Plaintiff’s

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manager, and her boss by herself. The Union reps made themselves available by zoom call only,
so it appeared this was a tactic to intimidate Plaintiff. Plaintiff approached the November 10 th
meeting with a letter suggesting that if management cannot formally acknowledge the fact that
she was not psychotic, then they cannot expect her to sign any documents. They insisted
Plaintiff comes back the next day for that meeting and when she stated that she could not return
the next day and suggested a later date; they pressed her to offer a reason why and told her she
was not being flexible.
Plaintiff never disclosed the reason why she could not come back the next day. In reality,
Plaintiff was trying to secure a nursing contract as she had no work and was under financial,
mental, and emotional strain and still had to figure out a way to make a living. They stepped out
to deliberate and came back 15 minutes prior to the end of the 2-hour meeting. They decided to
force Plaintiff to stay past the two hours and now enter the level 3 disciplinary meeting that same
day. Plaintiff became very distressed and left the meeting in a full-blown panic attack. Brooke
followed Plaintiff outside and demanded she return as Plaintiff had not yet been dismissed.
Plaintiff felt absolutely no support from union reps as all they did was counsel her to sign
whatever management wanted her to sign, thus causing her to assume, they were working with
management to get rid of her. Plaintiff’s union reps also stated that Plaintiff had no evidence of
the malicious gossip in the ED. During one of the moments, that Plaintiff had stepped out of the
meeting on November 10 th , to have a word with union reps; she informed them that all these
tactics management was partaking in would be boarding on a lawsuit. The union reps then
verbally asked Plaintiff to release them from representing her which she agreed to. It is
interesting because they later Plaintiff an email stating that she is the one who made the request
to release them.

iii. Emotional abuse (Intentional infliction of emotional distress)
When the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insults
against Plaintiff ‘sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s

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employment and create an abusive working environment,’ the law is violated.” See Kelly-Zurian
v. Wohl Shoe Co., Inc. (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 397, 409.
“It is not enough that the conduct be intentional and outrageous. It must be conduct
directed at the plaintiff, or occur in the presence of a plaintiff of whom the defendant is aware.”
Christensen v. Superior Court (1991) 54 Cal.3d 868,903-904 [2 Cal.Rptr.2d 79, 820 P.2d 181].
To establish a prima facie case of a hostile work environment, [the plaintiff] must show
that (1) [plaintiff] is a member of a protected class; (2) [plaintiff] was subjected to unwelcome
harassment; (3) the harassment was based on [plaintiff’s] protected status; (4) the harassment
unreasonably interfered with[plaintiff’s] work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile,
or offensive work environment; and (5) defendants are liable for the harassment.” Ortiz
v.Dameron Hospital Assn. (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 568, 581 [250 Cal.Rptr.3d 1]. The employer is
strictly liable for the supervisor’s actions regardless of whether the supervisor was acting as the
employer’s agent.” See Myers v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1421 [56
Cal.Rptr.3d 501].
Plaintiff avers that she is a member of a protected class. She is from Cameroon, a country
in central Africa where the practice of the religion of voodoo is commonplace and in its
malignant forms, the use of “black magic” to harm another is so pervasive to the point that there
are laws sanctioning against voodoo. For example, one can be sentenced and jailed for 5 years if
they try to harm others through supernatural means. Next, she was subjected to unwelcome
harassment for instance, on August 28, 2020 when she reported certain concerns to her manager
Susan, and was instead shouted back to, and it was alleged that she was mentally ill. She was
then forced to take mental check-ups, was retaliated against, and was terminated. Such
harassment interfered with Plaintiff’s performance at the work.
The chronology of events showing how Plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work
environment is as follows:

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November 13, 2020
For the first time in Plaintiff’s life, she started therapy with a licensed clinical
psychologist due to all the emotional distress and financial strain Plaintiff had been subjected to.
She sent management some emotional emails, which were reviewed by Plaintiff’s psychologist,
and it is due those emails that management then officially requested a mental health clearance.
November 23, 2020
Management never followed up to check up on me to see if Plaintiff was okay, but
instead, two days before thanksgiving, they reinforced the level 3 disciplinary sanction and
threatened Plaintiff’s employment at Kaiser. Again, demonstrating they had no regard for
Plaintiff’s wellbeing, they failed to address the fact that Plaintiff was being harassed at work and
did not feel safe, especially in the month of August. They also stated that she refused union
representation, which is untrue, and the union reps lied to management about this, again causing
Plaintiff to assume they were working with management to get rid of her. Plaintiff was given
until December 4 th to respond to this letter and submit a mental health clearance note, as well as
give Plaintiff’s availability to meet with management to discuss level 3 disciplinary action.
Plaintiff believes there was never any intention to get her back to work or attempt to
resolve the issue during the meeting with management on November 6 th ; rather it was an attempt
to cover their tracks after the illegal suspension by Sarah Poetter. In the meantime, Plaintiff
started receiving phone calls from concerned co-workers regarding toxic gossip from Xavier
Edwards, the very bully who she reported twice for bullying. He was now openly talking about
Plaintiff’s mental health and telling everyone in the ED that Plaintiff had a psychotic break,
describing her as mentally unstable and talking to voodoo spirits that he sent chasing Plaintiff.
Plaintiff was also traumatized that her mental health was now being openly discussed in the ED
and saw Plaintiff send an email to Sarah Poetter suggesting that she will be sending her a formal
letter of resignation. She quickly responded to that email accepting Plaintiff’s resignation, never
once mentioning anything about Plaintiff’s mental health clearance note.

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December 11, 2020
Plaintiff asked for an extension until December 11 th to further discuss this with her
psychologist. The psychologist determined that she will have a few sessions with Plaintiff first
prior to giving her this clearance note. Plaintiff made the management aware of this and sent
weekly email updates regarding the status of the clearance note, starting from December 11 th ,
until Plaintiff received the clearance note on December 29 th after which Plaintiff sent a copy of
the psychologist clearance note, as management had requested. Plaintiff had a total of 10 therapy
sessions.
December 29, 2020
Plaintiff sent the clearance note from Plaintiff’s psychologist on December 29 th and
Plaintiff did not hear back from HR for some time.
January 2021
There was minimal communication during the month of January.
February 1, 2021
Plaintiff received an email from Wilbert Jones (HR Disability case manager) asking her
to sign a Medical Release Authorization Form and Letter Requesting clarification from
Plaintiff’s Medical Provider. In addition, HR responded to the clearance note by placing Plaintiff
from suspension to medical leave because they wanted clarification from psychologist. Plaintiff
was harassed to sign authorization for Kaiser to speak directly with Plaintiff’s psychologist,
which request Plaintiff declined to do because she would lose HIPPA and other federal laws that
protected the privacy of Plaintiff’s medical information. Plaintiff informed HR that her provider
has an authorization from her and will be releasing clarification response directly to them.
February 5, 2021
On February 5 th , Plaintiff received a conclusion from the investigator (Lourdes Keppel)
stating no wrongdoing by management was found. She mentioned that a thorough investigation
was conducted including interviews with relevant individuals and based on the investigation; she
was unable to substantiate any policy violations. She also said Plaintiff had the right to appeal

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the case. These results were very distressing because during the entire investigation, Lourdes
never once called Plaintiff to clarify any of the information she had provided her even though
Plaintiff had sent her some copied emails with explanations of what had been transpiring and
told her Plaintiff was available by phone for questions or clarifications she might need. Plaintiff
believes Lourdes Keppel exhibited negligence because there was never any real attempt to
investigate the matter.
February 8, 2021
Plaintiff received an email from Brice Sikuade (HR consultant) saying that no clearance
note had ever been requested during the initial period of the incident (August – September) and
also wanted Plaintiff to ensure that Plaintiff’s psychologist provided clarification on her
clearance note by February 16 th .
February 10, 2021
On February 10 th , Plaintiff’s psychologist – Jiyung Kang responded back to HR with
clarifications on the clearance note she had submitted some of which have been indicated below.
Since incident in August, she presented significant level of anxiety, anger and
decreased energy due to sleep deprivation – regained functioning after starting
therapy, however if she goes back to the same work environment where she
experienced harassment, she may not feel safe and develop anxiety which may
interfere with her ability to function as a nurse.
February 16, 2021
Plaintiff received an mail from Robyn (EEO Investigator’s supervisor) asking if she was
requesting an appeal on investigators findings.
Throughout the entire process, Plaintiff was under profound emotional stress and was
further pushed by HR and gaslighted when they told her that she had never been asked to provide
a clearance letter in the first place and acted as though she was intentionally calling out of her
shifts when they had in fact cancelled her shifts and told her not to return to work. Further,
Plaintiff tried to be compliant as much as was reasonable during the process and provided

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weekly updates on Plaintiff’s therapy sessions and when she stopped therapy in January 2021,
Plaintiff alerted HR to the fact that she would no longer be sending weekly updates.

iv. Wrongful termination
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act–the main state law prohibiting
workplace harassment and employment discrimination–makes it illegal for employers to retaliate
against employees who oppose harassment or discrimination. Further, employers may not fire
workers based on their being part of a protected class, including: Race, Color, National origin, or
Ancestry. See Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System, (2021) Cal. LEXIS 5261.
On or about March 18, 2021, Plaintiff was emotionally overwhelmed and felt completely
cornered and so, she sent emails to the management which could be interpreted as “psychotic”.
On that same day, Plaintiff received a termination letter from Kaiser with some of the key points
below highlighted;
“Based on highly inappropriate and unprofessional communication combined
with refusal to cooperate in the fitness for duty (FFD) assessment process, we
are accepting your decision to terminate your employment with Kaiser. You
have no wages owed to you and you will not be able to work at any other
Kaiser Permanente entity in the future.”

The following chronology of events shows the Defendant’s intent to terminate Plaintiff’s
employment.
March 4, 2021
On March 4 th , Plaintiff received an email from Brice (HR) which was warning her about
unprofessional conduct and requesting that Plaintiff ceases from sending inappropriate
responses. This email was in response to some emails Plaintiff had sent to HR / Management
which was a cumulation of all the mounting psychological stress and emotional overwhelm
Plaintiff was experiencing.

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March 6, 2021
On March 6 th Plaintiff was experiencing a profound level of stress and emotional
overwhelm and Plaintiff had to go to the ER (Martin Luther Jr. King Community Hospital). She
was later on discharged that night with a diagnosis of acute stress reaction, insomnia, anxiety and
PTSD.
March 10, 2021
On this day, Plaintiff received an email from Wilbert Jones indicating that she needed to
complete fitness for Duty Examination and she would need to sign an authorization form. He
mentioned that they would engage a third-party medical professional (Dr. Tumi, Legal Forensic
Psychiatrist) to perform a complete mental / psychological assessment and ability to safely return
to work and requested that Plaintiff sign the authorization by March 19th. In addition, he
mentioned that while the medical evaluation was pending, she would remain on medical unpaid
leave consistent with her per diem employment status. Plaintiff responded to this email
indicating that she had already sent two mental health evaluations, including one clarification
response from psychologist and asked the question whether failure to comply meant termination
of employment.
March 11, 2021
On March 11 th , Plaintiff received confirmation from Douglas Pruss (HR Director) that
failure to comply with mental evaluation would mean Plaintiff was choosing to terminate her
employment with Kaiser. Plaintiff completed a legal form releasing the union reps from
representing her and in the form; she stated her reason as “failed to represent”.
March 14, 2021
Plaintiff emailed Will Jones indicating that she would comply with the mental evaluation
provided that the release and authorization form came from Dr. Tumi as opposed to an
authorization form from Kaiser.

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March 15, 2021
Plaintiff sent another email to clarify whether the doctor was an independent legal
forensic psychiatrist or if he was affiliated with Kaiser. Plaintiff also wanted to clarify whether
HR had the discretion to choose a mental evaluator and if so, was this stipulated in Plaintiff’s
employment contract.
March 16, 2021
Plaintiff reached out to HR and asked them for a copy of their fitness for duty (FFD)
policy.
March 17, 2021
Plaintiff had a phone discussion with Douglas Pruss ( HR Director ) about the situation
and in a follow up email, where he reiterated that based on all the disturbing emails Plaintiff had
sent, she would need to undergo a fitness for duty assessment to help them decide whether she
could safely return to work or not. He also mentioned the following; that Plaintiff must sign the
authorization and release form that Wilbert Jones had previously before they can schedule her
with Dr. Tumi. The authorization form would also allow them to directly communicate with Dr.
Tumi and get the results of the assessment. He also mentioned that the employer controls the
fitness for duty process including the authorization and release form and Kaiser does not have a
specific fitness for duty policy but follow legal guidelines. Finally, he mentioned that the
assessment was a requirement and condition for continued employment and must be signed by
5:00 pm on March 19 th and that Plaintiff continued to communicate unprofessionally and/or fail
to return the fitness for employment release form on 3/19, they would conclude that she is
choosing not to cooperate and choosing to terminate employment.
March 17, 2021
Plaintiff sent an email to Douglas Pruss and management on the following items: First,
Plaintiff asked them to clarify that Dr. Tumi was an independent medical psychiatrist. Plaintiff
also asked them to strike out the part “direct and oral communication between Kaiser and Dr.
Tumi” in the release form. Lastly, she mentioned that the March 19 th deadline was irrelevant if

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they didn’t make the necessary changes and they would be in fact terminating Plaintiff’s
employment.
The termination did not follow proper procedure, and it was the result of erroneous
allegations of Plaintiff’s mental capacity. Plaintiff felt completely humiliated and stripped of her
dignity by the way Plaintiff was asked to leave the ER and how she was treated throughout the
process. Plaintiff further avers that she was subjected to an overwhelming level of emotional
abuse were she felt trivialized like she did not matter because they countered by telling her that
she did not remember things correctly. It was also alleged that she was never asked for a mental
evaluation in the first place and when the union reps indicated that she wanted to release them
from representing me when it was them who had asked her to release them. She was stonewalled
in the beginning when HR, compliance and her ED supervisors refused to communicate with her
about the requirements for her to come back to work. Lastly, she was completely discredited, and
malicious gossip was spread throughout the ER that she was psychotic and that she was indeed
‘unsafe’ to care for patients and having a ‘psychotic break. Accordingly, all the actions they have
committed in the past without any care for my humanity was in fact “crazy making” behavior
and drove Plaintiff over the edge due to emotional overwhelm and anguish. Defendant is
therefore liable for punishment in light of the foregoing.
CONCLUSION

In summary, this has been an emotional roller coaster that really just stemmed from the
fact that Plaintiff’s manager (Sarah Poetter) was not able to handle cultural differences and an
employee reacting to bulling by illegally suspended Plaintiff and requested a psychiatric
clearance note without following proper protocols. All the subsequent actions taken by Kaiser’s
Staff (HR, compliance, Union representatives, Kaiser EEOC investigators) have been to cover
their tracks with no consideration for Plaintiff’s safety or wellbeing.

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WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays this Court find Defendant liable for all allegations made
by Plaintiff herein, and grant all prayers in Plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff further prays for any
other Order this Court deems just.

DATED:

Respectfully submitted,

____________________________
ESTHER TENAO ATAM

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