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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 111561
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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I am a 52 yr old registered nurse, who started a new

Customer Question

Hello,
I am a 52 yr old registered nurse, who started a new position in February of this year for a home health care company in upstate NY. My scheduled hours were supposed to be based on three 12 hr shifts, working each weekend Sat-Sun-Mon. The position was labeled as exempt, even though I was not in charge of supervision of any other employee. For major holidays, instead of bonus pay, we were to be scheduled only enough clients to work eight hours instead of the usual twelve. This did not happen, and the 36 hour work week usually turned into 50-60 hrs between visits, calls to doctors, charting. I was pulled from my orientation early (taken away from my assigned preceptor) because of not having enough staff to cover weekend visits. I had my 90 day review with my supervisor who neither mentioned any problems nor was I given anything in writing regarding it. During the week of June 15th, I went to my supervisor to inform her of new cardiac problems I developed, and I was told I would most likely need a pace maker, and would not be able to work for six weeks. I thought I was being a responsible employee to inform them as they were already short staffed. Her immediate statement was "You need to let us know as soon as possible because it is hard to get weekend coverage, and there are no light duty jobs here." I emailed the VP and head of supervisors on June 22nd to ask for a meeting, but was told to follow the chain of command and work things out. On June 26th, I was called into a meeting with both my supervisor, and the weekend supervisor, and informed of problems they had with my work. It was mainly the weekend supervisor stating allegations; when asked for specific instances or evidence I was told "I don't have that information with me right now." The meeting became progressively more hostile as I asked for documentation; this weekend supervisor is known for a passive/aggressive stance. I felt it better to ask for documentation in writing as the hostility increased. On July 5th, I received several strange emails from the weekend supervisor, and at the last of them she stated there would be a meeting on Monday, July 6th. to discuss progress from the June 26th meeting, and any concerns and questions I had would be answered. I believed this would be a meeting between my supervisor, myself, and the weekend supervisor. Instead, after seeing patients all day, when I returned to the office, I was ushered into HR, and the HR director sat there while the weekend supervisor alleged that I was not competent to work for the agency, and I could either resign or be fired. Although this is an at will state, I was never given anything in writing, not given a corrective plan of action, never given any warnings, not allowed to defend myself against any of their allegations, and they never provided substantial proof. My supervisor also knew I am the breadwinner and health care coverage holder for the family, and knew of the upcoming possibility of cardiac surgery from three weeks before. The weekend supervisor left the HR office, and I told the HR head they would have to fire me, and I required written notification of why they did so as I was not resigning, had been bullied by the weekend supervisor, and if I had been deemed incompetent by the weekend supervisor, why had she personally scheduled me for all three days? My question is this; because of my age, and the knowledge the supervisor had of my new cardiac condition and pending surgery, and the manner in which I was discharged, is there any possibility of a wrongful termination or discrimination suit against this employer? I am now left trying to arrange for medical coverage, while knowing I will most likely have to have surgery, and the cardiologist I am working with is treating me as non-compliant as I have not had it done as of yet. Thank you, ***** ***** BSN, RN
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
What you describe fits the classic discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act case and them using a pretext of some alleged legitimate claims against you to hide their discrimination against you under the ADA.
What you need to do first is file a complaint with the EEOC, since they have to investigate and provide you a right to sue letter. You will ultimately need an employment law attorney and looking in the larger cities near you would be the best place to find one.
The employer cannot terminate you based on your disability and as this all began when you informed them of your disability, the circumstances dictate that the whole reason for their actions is your disability and no other reason.
Get to the EEOC, file your complaint they will investigate and grant you a right to sue letter.
You can also apply for unemployment and if they try to dispute your claim, file an appeal (this can actually help your discrimination suit too) and make them prove why you were not qualified when you have not had any reports of problems or negative reviews. If you show in unemployment that their alleged reasons are not valid, that gives you more ammunition against them to give to the EEOC to prove this was just discriminatory pursuant to the ADA.