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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 99981
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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I am writing this, and asking questions in behalf of my

Customer Question

Hello, I am writing this, and asking questions in behalf of my Daughter's recent suspension from her job. I am inquiring for her because She never saw this coming, and has been so shocked and depressed that she has just been left hanging in limbo, with no where, and no one to turn to for answers. She is a booking Nurse (LPN) for a jail in SC. She has been employed there for 2 1/2 years. Her job entails the intake and medical assessment of inmates that have been arrested on various charges. They are brought into her office through the sheriff's department, accompanied by a Police Officer. Once the inmate is in her office, (which isn't much larger than a closet), one of the jail officer's stays with her for protection & security purposes. The Inmate brings their prescribed medication bottles, or packets in with them for her to count and record in front of both the Inmate, and the Officer, which they then ALL are required to sign off on in order to verify that the number of contents in the bottles, or packets of meds. and the contents are correct. In this case They all did sign off that everything she counted was correct. The medication is not left in her office, but rather sent off to wherever they store them. A very important point in this, is that she, (the Nurse) the Inmate, and the Officer are all 3 on video, and they are aware of that fact. May I also comment that My Daughter loves and respects her job, and caring for the Inmates. She is a kind, dedicated, and honest person, and she has a clean record. Long story short, for reasons
she was unaware of at the time She was called into the D.O.N.'s office on her day off approximately on May 22, 2016 or after, (not sure). The D.O.N. met with her and informed her that they were suspending her, pending an investigation, because a video taken on may 3rd, 2016 of her in her office shows 2 bottles of medication on her desk, and they claim she only signed off on one, the other they claimed was an pain med. which they claimed she did not sign off on, and is not in their possession. She told the D.O.N. that she did nothing wrong and followed company protocol, plus would NEVER take anyone's medication, nor does she, or has she never requested from any Physician and has never taken or been prescribed pain medication. She also told the DON. that although she does not recall there being 2 bottles of meds., Her, the Inmate, and the Officer in the room, all signed off on there being only one bottle, which should be on video, yet the company claims they saw 2 on the video. My Daughter has not seen the video. The D.O.N. (did not have the video in her possession) at the time of the meeting with my daughter, but said she did see it, and so did the Manager, and they said they did not see two bottles, or don't recall seeing two. She asked my Daughter if she wanted to see the video, even though it was not in her possession, and my Daughter replied "not now" because she was so shocked and upset, and broke down crying. In the D.O.N.,'S own words, "Me and E=== (the Manager) believe you". Her is what the D.O.N. said to my Daughter at the time of the meeting...."I'm NOT suppose to tell you this, but You are being suspended pending criminal investigation for taking in two bottles of medication (one being strong pain medication), and You only recorded one, and not the pain meds". "This investigation could take a very long time, and You could be arrested, and go to jail" she asks Pam ..."Did You take medication, or take it for anyone else"? (My Daughter responds while in shock and still crying), "NO, I would NEVER do that, I did nothing wrong, I never would have expected this, or saw this coming"! The D.O.N. asked her to sign a (supposed) suspension paper, and she did sign it, while under duress from the surprise and shock of it all, and now does NOT recall what she signed. No copy given to her, no letter prior to the meeting with the D.O.N. .....No one to contact since the initial meeting with the D.O.N. Who seems to like my Daughter and so does the manager, being fully aware of her work ethics on a daily basis, and they (according to the D.O.N'S own words, claim they both believe her. No reviews or meetings since the initial suspension meeting, no time element for the investigation was given to her at the time of the initial suspension, or since then, N0-one will talk to her, although she has the D.O.N'S PRIVATE CELL PHONE # ***** will NOT respond to my Daughter's calls. Various Employees have access to medication, and my Daughter feels that there MAY be an attempt to use her as a reason for a cover up. This company has a reputation for throwing Nurses under the bus. Please advise what steps to take. Thank You so much. -Bonnie-
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 6 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation, Bonnie.

Unfortunately, this is legal. Allow me to explain why. An employer generally has the right to terminate or to discipline or to investigate an an employee FOR ANY REASON. This includes employees of state, county, and municipal agencies.

The only reasons that one cannot be terminated or disciplined or investigated for are:

-PUBLIC POLICY (discrimination based on race, religion, creed, etc; or, a retaliatory termination due to a claim made by an employee); or
-CONTRACT POLICY (if one has a contract that disallows such a termination)
-COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH (firing an employee to avoid paying a benefit, for example)

Otherwise, an employer can do this for any reason, without notice. It can be based on a mistaken rumor, or, just the fact that they do not like your shoes one day. You will hear "right to work" a lot. However, that does not mean what people think it means. All this means is that at time of being employed, the employee has a choice whether or not to join a union as a condition of employment.

As such, she does not have a right to any tribunal or any process unless this was part of her employee handbook or contract. The employer also does not owe her any reviews or notices prior to suspension, investigation, or whatever action may be taken. No one has to talk to her or update her.

If she feels that this is a cover up or she is being set up, she may wish to get an attorney because the implication of her alleged actions here may result in a criminal investigation as well. But aside from this, there is nothing left but to wait out the results of the investigation. Hopefully, it will simply be dismissed and her work will resume, but one wants to hope for the best but plan for the worst.

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