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Hospital named in suit Ex-worker alleges discrimination, policy violations

Published September 08. 2012 09:02AM

A terminated employee has filed a lawsuit against Palmerton Hospital and the ex-employee's supervisor, Lois Richards, the Director of Radiology, alleging discrimination and that she was fired "for refusing to violate public policies."

The suit was filed by Eileen McGuire of Pocono Lake, who was employed at the Palmerton campus of the hospital as a Computerized Tomography Technologist (CT Technologist) from Oct. 13, 2008 to July 19, 2011.

Initially, the suit was filed on March 7 in Monroe County Court. On Wednesday, at the request of the defendants, the case was transferred to federal court in Scranton. A jury trial is requested.

McGuire is seeking $219,793 in the lawsuit plus attorneys' fees, costs, and interest. This includes $36,240 for breach of contract and $183,443 for wrongful termination for public policy.

According to the complaint filed by McGuire, she was hired as a CT Technologist and exonerated from the hospital policy of being on-call because she lived more than 30 minutes from the hospital.

The complaint states, "As part of her employment, plaintiff willingly agreed to work any shifts needed, but she expressly conditioned her acceptance of employment on having absolutely no 'on-call' assignments."

It alleges, "Soon after her employment began, plaintiff was ordered by defendants, often by Richards, to perform multiple illegal and unethical healthcare practices" that were violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, American Registry of Radiology Technology, and Pennsylvania Health and Safety Code.

McGuire says in the suit she "refused to engage in the required unlawful conduct."

In her accusations, McGuire says "specific examples of illegal and unethical practices" include:

• On one occasion, a Registered Nurse refused to send a patient to McGuire for a CT scan and delayed the processing of the patient, discharge, and impacted his or her health insurance claim.

• Between 2009 and 2011, defendants refused to allow employees access to radiation exposure logs, and ordered these logs to be treated as confidential.

• From 2010 to 2011, two of the plaintiff's co-workers employed inadequate shielding techniques, which placed patients in danger of unnecessary radiation.

• No down-time procedures were in force at Palmerton. Such down-time procedures are guidelines for the continuation of medical care in case of emergency where healthcare procedures are unavailable or inoperable.

• The Radiology Department was routinely performing multiple X-rays on patients where only one X-ray was needed.

• McGuire said she was ordered by Richards to perform a CT scan on women who were potentially pregnant. She says in the suit that under the American Registry of Radiology Technology Code of Ethics, certified radiologic technologists are not permitted or licensed to determine the need for or order pregnancy tests for patients. Because she refused to take a scan, she was reprimanded, she claims.

The plaintiff alleges that throughout her employment, she was "harassed" by Richards in front of other technologists. She also claims she was harassed by other technologists.

She also was ordered to work the "on call" schedule, despite being a "no call" employee, she states in the lawsuit.

McGuire claims she may have had her employment terminated "because she was significantly older than the other CT Technologists."

The first count in the suit, breach of contract, McGuire claims that Palmerton Hospital breached the terms of the employment agreement by forcing her to provide on-call services on several occasions.

In the second count, she alleges that she was "illegally harassed and ultimately terminated by defendants after she:

a. Participated in conduct required by law,

b. Refused to perform acts prohibited by law; and/or

c. Engaged in conduct that she was privileged by law to do.

McGuire is represented in the suit by Attorney Deirdre Kamber Todd of Center Valley.

Representing the hospital and Richards is Attorney Vincent Candiello of Post & Schell P.C., Harrisburg.

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