Gadsden County, FL March 11, 2020 – A jury of six men and women deliberated for five hours this week before returning a verdict in favor of our client, a CNA and patient aide, finding that she was retaliated against for opposing violations of law relating to the care of a 92-year old patient. Our client testified that the patient, identified in court only as “Mrs. R.,” fell repeatedly, was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, and was not being given proper fall barriers (e.g., bedrails, carpeting, and headboards) to protect her.
Our client asserted that after she spoke out repeatedly – urging the assisted living facility to transfer Mrs. R. to a skilled nursing home, where she could get medical care – she was harassed, taken off the schedule, and assaulted by a manager who was angry about her complaints. Assisted living facilities (known as ALFs) are like ordinary apartment complexes, but specifically for elderly residents who need some measure of help during the day – getting dressed, walking, and so on. But ALFs are not medical, nursing or psychiatric facilities, however, and there are no RNs, ARNPs, or physicians. Evidence showed the facility was charging Mrs. R. nearly $3,200 a month for her tiny, 320 sq. ft. studio apartment, and that this may have been one motive for not transferring her to a facility with a higher level of care.
A second patient aide who complained about Mrs. R.’s care also testified and told the jury she, too, was harassed and forced to quit, by the same local manager. This second aide, as well as our client, testified that after putting their complaints in writing, the complaint disappeared from the three-ring binder used by the ALF to store complaints.
The verdict doesn’t end our fight for our client. We have now filed requests with the Court asking it to order our client reinstated (returned to work) to her former position, with all lost benefits. We have also asked the Court to forbid the employer from retaliating against her in the future, and to mandate training for corporate officials on the laws forbidding retaliation against whistleblowers who speak up for vulnerable and elderly residents.