November 1st, 2012

A woman who was fired from her job at a hospital two years ago has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reporting that her boss was using illegal drugs.

The conflict began when she says she saw her department manager snorting a white powder through a rolled-up bill. The incident took place at work, and the woman reported it to the proper authorities there. After that, she says officials conducted an inadequate or possibly bogus investigation. Then, the manager accused the woman of falsifying her time card. That allegation led to the woman’s wrongful termination in late 2010.

In the middle of all of this was the woman’s union, which encouraged her to sign an agreement with her employer over the timecard allegations, but she refused because the agreement contained false information. The union is also named in the lawsuit along with the hospital. Both the union and the hospital have tried to avoid liability for the wrongful termination, arguing that the woman waited too long to file her claim and that her allegations were insufficient for a lawsuit.

Luckily a federal judge disagreed with those arguments and has allowed the lawsuit to go forward.

These types of cases provide an important reminder that sometimes more than one party is complicity in retaliation. It is unclear at this time why the union that was supposed to be representing the worker tried to encourage her to sign an agreement that contained false statements or whether that was a part of the larger retaliation effort by the hospital.

All employees are protected from retaliation for reporting misconduct or illegal activities by their employer or coworkers. Employees who have been fired for filing such a complaint may be able to recover in a retaliation lawsuit.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Fired Kaiser Worker Can Pursue Retaliation Case,” Matt Reynolds, Nov. 1, 2012.

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