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Therapist says she was fired unjustly for reporting neglect

The vast majority of therapists in West Virginia choose their profession because of their desire to help others. One out-of-state woman, however, claims that she was fired unjustly after she reported what she claims was patient neglect to the management of CooperRiis, the provider of mental health care that employed her. A jury has recently ruled in her favor in a lawsuit filed as a result of her termination.

The woman says she made her concerns known about problems with prescription refills and self-administration of prescriptions leading to overdoses, among other issues, that she claims was evidence of patient neglect. She claims that the company's decisions to fire her in 2009 was the result of those complaints. Her lawsuit requested damages for lost wages and distress, among others.

A jury recently ruled on her behalf. According to the ruling, reporting what she perceived to be patient neglect is protected by law. The jury additionally found that there appeared to be no other reason for her termination. She was awarded $3.6 million as a result. A representative for the company claims that it will not appeal the decision and further states that the company has taken measures -- such as hiring two human resources personnel -- to prevent similar issues in the future.  

Health care providers must often make difficult decisions in order to ensure that their patients receive the care and attention they deserve. Fear of being fired unjustly could be a deterrent in a case such as this. Those in West Virginia who have faced similar retaliation for attempting to look out for the best interests of their patients also have legal options. An attorney with experience with employment law can help a victim of such action better understand these options.

Source: citizen-times.com, "CooperRiis to pay $3.6 million in wrongful firing lawsuit", Emily Patrick, March 9, 2016

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