NewYork-Presbyterian hospital fired nurse in retaliation for union activity, labor board rules

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NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., wrongfully fired an operating room nurse for engaging in union activity protected under federal law, the New York branch office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled last week.  

The 128-bed community hospital terminated Rosamaria Tyo in March 2020. 

The hospital contends it fired Ms. Tyo, a 17-year employee at the hospital and member of the New York State Nurses Association, for abandoning a patient by leaving another registered nurse, Kevin Lazaro, in the operating room for 28 minutes during a noncritical point in the surgery, according to the labor board. Ms. Tyo was serving as a teacher for Mr. Lazaro at the time.

During the February 2020 surgery, Ms. Tyo left the operating room to go to the first-floor conference room, where she joined other hospital employees and union representatives to try to persuade the hospital's chief nursing officer to attend collective bargaining negotiations, according to the labor board. Before Ms. Tyo left, Mr. Lazaro indicated he was comfortable being in the room without her at that point in the surgery, the labor board's ruling stated.

In the end, the labor board found the hospital's claims of patient abandonment based on the facts of the case to be "utterly uncompelling," it said in Aug. 11 ruling.

"Although there were two surgeons and multiple other individuals in the operating room during the surgery, no one present thought enough of this allegedly outrageous act to so much as report it, let alone launch an investigation of it, as one might expect where outrageous conduct has taken place. To the contrary, one of the surgeons, despite being aware of Tyo's conduct, objected in writing to Tyo's termination," wrote Jeffrey P. Gardner, a labor board judge.

"In short, I am not persuaded that respondent would have discharged Tyo … had she not engaged in concerted activity days before her discharge," he said. 

The labor board ordered the hospital to offer Ms. Tyo full reinstatement to her former job or substantially equivalent position, pay for loss of earnings and other benefits, post an order outlining the board's findings and remove records of Ms. Tyo's termination from hospital files. 

Becker's reached out to NewYork-Presbyterian and will update the piece with a comment if it is provided. 

To access a copy of the full labor board decision, click here.  

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