From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
September 2010 Edition
|Kathy Metzger, left, chair of the MNA bargaining unit at Brockton Hospital, with Elaine Gill, following her winning settlement.|
Elaine Gill worked as a registered nurse at Brockton Hospital for more than 30 years and, by all accounts from those who knew her during her tenure there, was one the most valued and respected RNs at the hospital. But those 30 years hardly seemed to matter when, one day in 2008, the hospital brought a charge of poor clinical practice against Gill and she was terminated.
The MNA quickly filed a grievance—a grievance that went on to arbitration.
Alan McDonald, the attorney for the MNA who handled Gill’s case, was ultimately successful in refuting the hospitals baseless charges, but he was quick to add that this was the longest arbitration he ever experienced, “with over 20 days of testimony.” In the end, the arbitrator found in favor of Gill and ordered that she be “made whole,” including payment of all lost wages and credit for lost years of service. The hospital then appealed the arbitrator’s ruling to federal court.
About the same time that all this was going on, an article appeared in the Brockton Enterprise, which depicted Gill as a drug diverter—charges that were never part of the original complaint. Gill, who had since found new employment, received a call from her new employer shortly after the article appeared in the paper asking her if there was something she needed to tell them. She was now in fear of losing her new job even though she was exonerated of all charges. In addition, Gill, a life-long resident of Brockton, was now concerned about both her professional and non-professional reputation.
Soon after the article appeared in the paper, Gill’s fellow nurses came to her aid by circulating a petition denouncing the newspaper and standing together in her support. Hundreds of nurses signed the petition. Soon after these events, the hospital requested a meeting to work out a settlement and the litigation over the arbitrator’s decision was settled to the satisfaction of both Gill and the MNA.
John Gordon, Gill’s MNA bargaining unit representative, said, “Justice was done, which is hard to believe after all the hospital put her through. Gill is one of the nicest and most caring nurses I have ever had the pleasure of working with in my 25-year career. All during her ordeal I received calls from her colleagues inquiring about her well being and about how the case was progressing. It is great to see that when a nurse is wrongly accused, the hospital can be made to pay.”