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June 6, 2008

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Sued by HIV-Positive Former Employee

An HIV-positive former Kaiser Foundation Health Plan employee is suing the company for harassment, failure to accommodate disability and other charges, according to the Bay Area Reporter (, 6/5).

Jeffery Sterman, 51, worked for Kaiser for 16 years and filed a suit last month in San Francisco Superior Court, claiming that Kaiser violated an agreement to accommodate his medical needs. According to Sterman, in 2007 his supervisor cut his support staff and increased his workload until he felt he “was expected to work around the clock.” He says that when he raised his concern with his supervisor, he did not receive adequate support.

“The attitude is, that this is the way that it is in corporate America, you work 24/7, and if you don’t like it, then you can leave the organization. They used my disease as a way for me not to be able to keep up with the pace,” said Sterman. “This is a pattern not only with Kaiser, but with corporate America. I think people with AIDS and other chronic conditions are victims of that culture.”

According to the article, Kaiser issued the following statement: “As a matter of policy, we will not discuss any matters related to a current employee, nor will we discuss pending litigation. However, Kaiser Permanente is widely recognized for its strong commitment to diversity and to sustaining a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.”

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