Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (20)11 November 2012  PDF

Discrimination: Court Finds Basis For Nurseís Case.

  The reason given for the nurseís termination was that she went outside the hospitalís set chain of command for nursing advocacy.

  However, the chain of command policy did not apply to what actually happened. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT VIRGINIA October 12, 2012

        The nurse had been an insulin-dependent diabetic since age five.  She had been working at the hospital eighteen years, taking short breaks to test and to inject insulin and to eat snacks, which did not seem to interrupt or affect her work.

                She began to suspect the hospital had drawn up a list of old and sick nurses to weed out and that she was on the list.

                She was approached by the physician chief of surgery and candidly answered the questions he had about a particular physician. After the subject physician complained to hospital management the nurse was fired.  She sued for age and disability discrimination.

                The US District Court for the Western District of Virginia found grounds for the nurseís lawsuit.

                The hospitalís policy for nursing advocacy required a nurse to go to up the chain of command to the charge nurse, nurse unit manager and house nursing supervisor before any of the medical staff.

                It would be a clear breach of the chain of command policy for a nurse to go straight to the chief of surgery with concerns about a physicianís performance, but that did not happen.  He came to her and she was not out of line to speak with him.

                The hospitalís stated reason for the nurseís termination was so transparently wrong that discrimination was most likely the true underlying motivation, the Court said.  Horne v. Clinch Valley Med. Ctr., 2012 WL 4863791 (W.D. Va., October 12, 2012).


© 2013 E. Kenneth Snyder / Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession