RNs, Filipino Community Groups Charge Sutter Health/California Pacific with Hiring Ban on Filipino Nurses

RNs, Filipino Community Groups Charge Sutter Health/California Pacific with Hiring Ban on Filipino Nurses

One of San Francisco’s biggest hospitals, Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center, is engaged in systematic discrimination against the hiring of Filipino registered nurses, the California Nurses Association, joined by Filipino community and church groups and leaders, charged Thursday.

The groups are calling for an investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

In a letter to the Commission Wednesday, CNA filed a complaint charging Sutter and CPMC with employment discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin.

Additionally, CNA Wednesday filed a class action grievance against Sutter and CPMC, which also operates St. Luke’s Hospital, for contract violations in a systematic policy of discrimination. CNA also called on Sutter Health to intervene and direct its affiliate CPMC to cease and desist the practices of employment discrimination.

In response to this discriminatory practice, more than two dozen Filipino and other community leaders sent a letter to CPMC today demanding a meeting with CEO Warren Browner and Diana Karner, the Sutter West Bay Vice President of Nursing, that CPMC publicly renounce its discriminatory practices, and commit to equal opportunity regardless of race or national origin.

At the press conference, CNA provided testimony by former nursing supervisors at CPMC and nurses who have faced the discriminatory practices – and hiring data documenting the results. 

CPMC’s VP of Nursing: “You are not to hire any Filipinos”

Chris Hanks, a former director of Critical Care Services at CPMC, said in a declaration that Karner, told him on a number of occasions, “you are not to hire any Filipinos.”

Another former nurse supervisor Ronald Villanueva said in a declaration that he also heard Karner tell another supervisor, “do not hire foreign graduate nurses” – an unambiguous reference to Filipinos.

The hiring data bears that out. A review by CNA of active employee lists provided by CPMC demonstrates that in early 2008 there was a major demographic shift among the nurses being hired at St Luke’s. Before February 2008, 65% of St Luke’s RNs were Filipino. After February 2008, only 10% of RNs hired were Filipino.

“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 from SOMA to the Excelsior,” said CNA Co-president Zenei Cortez, RN.

“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,” said Cortez. “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.”

 “Our community needs access to healthcare and good jobs.  Sutter/CPMC’s discrimination against Filipino nurses is another blatant example of the abuse that Filipino migrant workers face in the United States,” said Terry Valen, on behalf of the Filipino Community Center and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.
“Sutter and CPMC must be held accountable for providing immigrants and communities of color in San Francisco access to permanent jobs and the healthcare we need in our community, not deliberate racial discrimination and medical redlining,” Valen added.
“The first line of defense from discrimination is a strong union. Sutter’s discriminatory practices against Filipino nurses is as much about denying job opportunities as it is about punishing unionized Filipina nurses at St. Luke’s who stood up to Sutter’s plans to cut services to our community,” said Lillian Galedo of Filipino Advocates for Justice.