ADA: Employer Did Not Unlawfully Discriminate in Responding to Reports of Employee’s Behavioral Health

July 20, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A court of appeals in Ohio concluded that a hospital did not unlawfully discriminate against an employee in its response to concerns raised by the plaintiff's colleagues about the plaintiff's behavioral health and patient care. The plaintiff, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), allegedly exhibited disturbing behavior at work.

According to the court, the plaintiff had experienced personal difficulties, including divorce proceedings and a criminal prosecution of her daughter. Reportedly, one of the plaintiff's colleagues stated to her supervisor, "without being certain of the plaintiff's exact words," that the plaintiff said, "maybe I should just put a gun to my head, maybe I should just not be here." The supervisor in turn reported this information to his supervisor and the chair of the department of anesthesia. An anesthesiologist also expressed concern when, over a two- to four-week period, he received a "gradual escalation of undocumented reports" from surgeons, operating room nurses, anesthesiologists, and other CRNAs regarding the plaintiff's ability to concentrate on taking care of patients, citing among several incidents one in which the plaintiff reportedly failed to act in response to a surgeon's request to raise the surgical table. The plaintiff allegedly replied tearfully, "I'm not worth anything or I'm worthless, what good does it do or what difference...

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