Hello:My question is whether I have any grounds for a wrongful discharge from a job. I live in Washington State and worked for 9 years at Morton General Hospital. I'm a well experienced ER nurse since 1983, graduated in 1972 and am now 80 years old. Last August after being assigned to medical-surgical unit in this small hospital, I had a terrible day with a critical patient, another on frequent meds every 1/2 hour, and the computer system not working for meds. The charge nurse was little help since she had to cover ER as well. I was taken off the schedule, until a meeting with the DON. In that meeting the DON mentioned the "disaster of that day" and said she was not going to put me on the schedule any more. She gave no details, only asked if I had considered retiring. I said that I hadn't. She again said she was no longer going to put me on the schedule. I was devastated and turned in my resignation, figuring if I wouldn't be on the schedule there was no point in staying on staff. Now I do regret resigning without a fight. She said she had some complaints about me but could not provide any more information. I checked my records and there are no complaints. Every yearly review I have had has been positive, the last one above average. The more I think about this the more it angers me. I actually treated this DON in the ER when she first started her job for "anxiety" and she thanked me for the excellent care. She also witnessed other ER events for which she praised me. She does seem to "pick on" other older nurses but nothing specific. Thanks for any advice whether I should just forget this or pursue it.
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Washington
Hello,First I need to point out that if you resigned, there would be no cause of action for wrongful termination. That cause of action would only exist if you had been terminated involuntarily. Even if you could argue that taking you off the schedule was tantamount to a termination, then the next hurdle is that Washington is an employment "at will" state. That means that an employer can terminate and employee for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning unless the termination would violation an employment contract, company policy or employment discrimination law or other protective law, such as Whistleblowers' laws. That said, if you believe that you were removed from the schedule because of the fact that you are over 40 years of age (which is when the protections of the age discrimination laws kick in) then you would generally have the right to file a discrimination complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission and the EEOC. Unfortunately, if you left employment in August, you missed the six month deadline to file a complaint with the Washington HRC. That leaves the EEOC. Normally the deadline is 180 days, however, when State law prohibits the kind of discrimination that the employee is complaining of, the EEOC will extend their deadline to 300 days from the date of the last discriminatory act. Without doing the math, it looks like you might still just be within that 300 days. So, you could file an age discrimination claim with the EEOC for the removal from the schedule.That said, these age discrimination cases are the most difficult of all forms of discrimination to prevail on because of the way the law is written. If your supervisor had any legitimate reason for removing you from the schedule, then the fact that your age also played a role in it, would not be sufficient to sustain an age discrimination claim. That age discrimination complaint though, and any follow on litigation, would be your only legal recourse at this point.
Licensed Attorney with 27 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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