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Elder Care Home Retaliated Against Nurse. Here's What She Did...

Anita Anderson was a licensed practical nurse caring for elderly and vulnerable patients at Valley West Health Care Center in 2019. She was forced out of her position when she needed to take medical leave to take care of her son, who has a disability, and her own injuries from intimate partner violence she experienced.

On May 4, 2020, our office filed her claims in the U.S. District Court of the State of Oregon. A copy of the complaint is here.

Nurses often experience pressure to work when they are unwell or to sacrifice their health and safety for their employer. In many situations, like in Ms. Anderson’s case, this can create a dangerous situation for patients. For example, after Valley West reduced Ms. Anderson’s hours in retaliation for taking protected leave, on one of her shifts, Valley West pressured Ms. Anderson to admit patients quickly, when she was not sufficiently trained to enter their medication. When she asked for help, she did not receive it. Valley West showed the same disregard for its patients’ health and safety that it did for Ms. Anderson’s and her son’s health and safety.

Valley West Health Care Center is owned by Life Care Centers of America, which was the nursing home in the Seattle area whose negligence contributed to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the United States. More information about that is here.

Here is what Ms. Anderson says about working with our office: “Before working with Eris Conflict Resolution I was so negative with myself, life and the outcomes. Now I have never felt so in control, at peace, and excited about my own life.” While her decision to file her claims was difficult, we are proud of Ms. Anderson for enforcing her rights both for her own and for employee safety.

If you know anyone who needs to take medical leave to care for a child or related to intimate partner violence, make sure they know they have rights. Too many employees, especially nurses, tolerate dangerous situations. The problem with that is that if we are unhealthy or unsafe, it impacts the people we want to help, too.

It is never easy for nurses to make the choice to enforce rights as employees, but it is one way to start making an impact and creating safety for patients.

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