Kaiser Permanente has agreed to resolve two racial discrimination lawsuits with a total payout of $ 18.9 million.
The trials alleged that the Oakland, California-based health system did not pay its black and Hispanic workers as much as it did their white workers. They also alleged Kaiser had unfair hiring and promotion practices that were holding back their colored workers.
Although Kaiser denies “various elements” of the lawsuits, it is sad to learn that employees feel discriminated against and “acknowledge”[s] How important it is to listen to and learn from our employees, ”said Christian Meisner, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of the healthcare system, in an email.
“To that end, we have chosen to work with groups of plaintiffs to resolve two class action cases on negotiated terms,” he said.
Meisner has not clarified which parts of the lawsuits the health system denies.
In the first – a class action lawsuit that covers approximately 2,225 black employees – Kaiser pays $ 11.5 million. Plaintiffs worked for several Kaiser Permanente companies, including the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and provided administrative support and advisory services.
The lawsuit alleged that Kaiser Permanente’s compensation and promotion policies resulted in black employees being underpaid and undervalued compared to their peers from other races. The lawsuit has been running since 2018. After the mediation in December, the parties reached an agreement.
In the second lawsuit, Kaiser Permanente agreed to pay $ 7.4 million. The class action for discrimination based on national origin was brought by Michael Cuenca, a Hispanic employee who had worked for the healthcare system for a decade.
Since 2016, the health system has paid its Hispanic workers less than employees of other races and national origins for similar work, the lawsuit said. The wage gap was particularly pronounced when compared to white workers.
The lawsuit targeted not only the wage differentials, but also Kaiser’s recruitment practices. Hispanic employees are disproportionately hired for the worst-paying jobs and underrepresented in managerial and managerial positions, the lawsuit said.
Similar to the first lawsuit, the second lawsuit affects approximately 2,500 Spanish and Latin American employees in administrative support, counseling and similar positions.
In addition to the funds in both settlements, Kaiser Permanente has agreed to set up workplace programs to ensure that the wages and advancement opportunities of Hispanic and black employees are fair and equitable.
The health system will hire an independent consultant to conduct a review of the job analysis within the next year. In addition, independent salary analyzes for employees in defined occupational classifications are carried out annually for three years.
“As a mission-driven organization – and as a nationally recognized leader for justice, inclusion and diversity – we hold ourselves responsible for living our values by strengthening our inclusive culture and expanding our work to eliminate any differences and their causes,” said Meisner von Kaiser.
In both cases, the courts will shortly set a date for the hearing to provisionally approve the settlement.
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