In the Courts: Firing Nurse for Calling in Sick Contravenes Public Policy, Court Holds

June 3, 2016 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​In a case brought by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) against a nursing home that had fired him, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma has held that it is against public policy to terminate a nurse for staying home from work due to illness with influenza. However, the court remanded the case for further proceedings because disputed facts existed regarding the reason for the employee's termination.

The LPN had been employed at the nursing home for about 11 months when he became sick at work. In that time, he had been written up at least five times for failure to follow instructions, failure to complete tasks, rebellious behavior, and spreading rumors. When the director of nursing (DON) overheard him vomiting, she told him to go home. The LPN went directly to see his physician, who treated him and gave him a note stating that he could return to work in three days. He informed the scheduler, even though he was not scheduled to work. When he brought in the physician's note five days later, he discovered that he had been...

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