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Woman accuses New York hospital of wrongful termination

A Methodist Hospital employee says that she was wrongfully fired after she told a manager that the medical students helping treat cancer patients as part of the Center for Allied Health Education curriculum did not have health clearances. The woman had worked in the teaching facility as a program director for about seven months prior to her Dec. 6, 2013 termination.

The 40-year-old woman told reporters that she was fired because she found out that the supervisors in the education facility are seemingly not worried about the safety and health of their patients. She brought attention to the issue of non-screened pupils about two months prior to her termination. The health clearance includes flu and hepatitis vaccinations as well as screenings for varicella, tuberculosis and other diseases that are contagious.

In a second complaint about the problem, the woman warned her manager about the threat that non-screened students presented to patients at five hospitals in the area. After that, the woman says that the hospital fired her out of fear that she would file a complaint with the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. The committee was due to audit the facility in January, the month after her termination.

Her lawsuit claims that the hospital did not act to protect its patients from students who did not have health clearance. It also claims that the woman was fired for bringing the issue to the attention of higher authorities. However, Methodist Hospital disagrees that the woman was wrongly terminated. Several laws and the Occupational Safety and Health Act protect workers against wrongful termination as a result of retaliation for whistleblowing. Workers who believe they are in this situation may file a complaint with OSHA and could be entitled to compensation.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, 'Whistleblower Protections"

Source: New York Daily News, "New York Methodist Hospital axes whistleblower who told of public safety issue: suit ", Natalie Musumeci, July 13, 2014

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