Nurse files $6.5M retaliation suit against HCA, Florida hospital

A nurse filed a $6.5 million retaliation lawsuit Jan. 31 against St. Petersburg (Fla.) General Hospital and its parent company Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corporation of America.

The nurse, Wendi Ross, RN, alleges she slipped and fell on a wet floor while working at St. Petersburg General on May 6, 2014. Per hospital protocol, she was submitted to a urine drug screen after she filed the incident report.

According to the complaint, hospital officials told Ms. Ross on May 23, 2014, that her drug test came back positive and she was immediately suspended and then terminated.

Ms. Ross claims she had a prescription for the drug that caused the positive test, which the testing agency confirmed on June 3, 2014. However, the hospital refused to reconsider her termination.

Although hospital officials said Ms. Ross was fired due to the positive drug test, she claims she was let go in retaliation for filing a previous discrimination complaint against the hospital with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After filing a new EEOC complaint Aug. 10, 2016, the EEOC issued her a "right to sue" letter Nov. 3. 

Hospital spokeswoman Pam Yarbrough tells Becker's, "The hospital has not yet been served with a copy of the complaint and therefore has not had the opportunity to review it. However, we work very hard to maintain a healthy work environment that fosters compassion, respect and inclusion, and are confident that we have acted appropriately. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously in this matter."

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