Nurse, Georgia hospital settle discrimination lawsuit

A former South Georgia Medical Center nurse alleging discrimination has settled a federal lawsuit with the Valdosta, Ga.-based hospital, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in December 2016 by Virginia Abbott.

Ian Smith, an attorney with the Barrett and Farahany law firm in Atlanta, representing Ms. Abbott, told the Times the settlement terms are not public. 

At issue in the lawsuit is events that led to Ms. Abbott's firing. The lawsuit claims Ms. Abbott, who has a seizure disorder, was discriminated against by colleagues after suffering a seizure at work in 2014, according to the report. The lawsuit claims she was forced to take unpaid leave and not allowed to work in the cardiac outpatient department.

Ms. Abbott says she learned she could take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and eventually took another job offered to her as a nurse educator at the hospital's diabetes management center, according to the Times. The lawsuit  claimed she did not receive the same work accommodations as colleagues and was given less time than colleagues to complete orientation training.

Ms. Abbott was terminated in 2016, about a month after suffering a second seizure.

"After numerous complaints about the working conditions … lack of guidance and denial of basic resources, defendant sabotaged plaintiff’s chance of success by not allowing her to return to work and then terminating her employment for not completing her orientation," the lawsuit claims.

"Although Defendant purports to provide a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse action, this reason is a pre-text," the lawsuit claimed.

Ms. Abbott sought "front pay" or reinstatement.

According to the Times, the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County, the hospital's governing body, largely denied the lawsuit's allegations and said some of the allegations should be prohibited by statutes of limitations. The authority said it at times believed Ms. Abbott could not safely do her work for health reasons.

Medical center officials did not immediately return phone calls from the Times seeking comment.


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