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CNA Bias Claims Against Sutter Health: Discrimination or Desperation?

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 30, 2010

The California Nurses Association has raised troubling accusations of ethnic discrimination against Sutter Health's California Pacific Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco.

The union alleges that CPMC and St. Luke's Hospital are "engaged in systematic discrimination against the hiring of Filipino registered nurses." CNA leaders, flanked by Filipino community leaders, made the accusations during an Aug. 19 press conference.

CNA Co-president Zenei Cortez, RN, said that St. Luke's and CPMC RNs, many of them Filipino, have been outspoken in defense of their patients, and in opposition to Sutter and CPMC's plans to reduce services to the largely lower income, minority community depending on St. Luke's.

"Rather than respond to the concerns of the community, CPMC and Sutter have chosen instead to retaliate by carrying out a punitive, illegal, and immoral campaign of discrimination," Cortez said. "There can be no excuse for racial or ethnic discrimination. A hospital should be a center of therapeutic healing for patients, not a model of bigotry."

CNA on Aug. 18 filed a class-action grievance against Sutter and CPMC for contract violations in a "systematic policy of discrimination." CNA also called on Sutter Health to direct CPMC to end the discrimination. The union asked for an investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.  

CPMC CEO Warren Browner, MD, called the accusations "false and designed to cover up the union's own failure to win a contract despite three years of negotiations."
"We pride ourselves on our diverse hiring policies and our longstanding commitment to promoting equal opportunity employment," Browner said. "The allegations of discrimination made by the California Nurses Association are dishonest and without merit."

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