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COVID-19

California temp agency fired health worker over COVID-19 absence, suit says

Nick Wicker  

Nick Wicker  

(June 12, 2020) - A medical assistant says a temp agency that assigned her to a temp-to-hire position at a Sacramento, California, health care clinic wrongfully terminated her for taking time off after developing COVID-19 symptoms.

James v. Language World Services Inc. et al., No. 34-2020-00279929, complaint filed, 2020 WL 3056729 (Cal. Super. Ct., Sacramento Cty. June 4, 2020).
 
Destiney James alleges that staffing company Language World Services Inc., doing business as Staff World Services Inc., violated state law disability-discrimination and retaliatory-firing protections by dismissing her after she was exposed to the novel coronavirus and stayed home to self-quarantine while waiting for the results of a test.
 
The suit, filed June 4 in the Sacramento County Superior Court, also names as a defendant CARES Community Health, which operates the One Community Health clinic where she worked. James alleges the clinic refused to provide her a mask when she worked with a patient who had COVID-19.
 

Self-quarantine led to firing, suit says

According to the complaint, drafted by legal counsel at Shimodo Law Corp., James began working at One Community Health clinic in October 2019.
 
She says that on March 5, a patient came into the clinic with COVID-19 symptoms. When James asked her manager for a mask to protect herself, the manager provided masks for two other employees but none for James, the suit says.
 
According to the complaint, James started to experience chest pain, shortness of breath and chills about a week later.
 
James says she informed her managers of the symptoms and was placed on a weeklong medical leave.
 
On her return to work March 30, James says her co-workers informed her the patient she had seen March 5 tested positive for COVID-19. James told her manager that under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules, the clinic had a legal obligation to inform her and other employees about the possible COVID-19 exposure, the suit says.
 
James says she then went to the emergency room to be tested for COVID-19, and although the test came back negative, a doctor told her to take another week off work to be safe and reduce any potential spread of the disease.
 
She says she notified both defendants of the developments and excuses for her absences April 2, but learned the same day via email that the clinic had terminated her effective March 30 for breach of confidentiality. The clinic told James it would provide further explanation for her firing, but she has received no more information, the suit says.
 
The complaint cites 12 causes of action against the defendants, including disability discrimination and retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov’t Code § 12900; wrongful termination; and violation of provisions of the state’s health and safety code and labor code.

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