Employee accuses Oregon hospital of wage theft, discrimination and retaliation

A former employee of Oregon State Hospital is accusing the Salem-based psychiatric hospital, its superintendent, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Human Services of wage theft, retaliation and discrimination, the Statesman Journal reports.

Larry Pressnall was a Native American services provider at Oregon State Hospital until he was fired in 2014. In his suit, Mr. Pressnall claims hospital staff made condescending comments about his work, which including leading patients in Native American activities like smudging and sweat lodge ceremonies. Mr. Pressnall further alleges that hospital staff interfered with Native American ceremonies and withheld his pay, according to the report.

The lawsuit also includes allegations of harassment and discrimination. While employed at Oregon State Hospital, Mr. Pressnall was accused of sexually abusing a patient during a smudging ceremony. The lawsuit alleges that although Oregon State Police investigators and Oregon State Hospital investigators concluded there was no sexual abuse, hospital superintendent Greg Roberts restated the allegations in a letter to at least eight people, according to the report.

Mr. Pressnall is seeking back pay and at least $900,000 in damages.

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