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Joyce Endee

Former LRH employees file lawsuit

August 07, 2009
LITTLETON—Littleton Regional Hospital (LRH) is currently the subject of an unlawful termination lawsuit by former employees.

The lawsuit, filed by Mark Heinrichs and Deborah Bisson July 29, alleges that both were fired because the hospital administration engaged in a pattern of intimidation against its employees who were outspoken, rather than laid off for the economic reasons given by LRH administrators.

Heinrichs and Bisson were both part of a layoff on May 19 when seven people were cut from the hospital staff.

This was the latest in a series of such suits. In May 2008, former nurse Christopher Pollich sued LRH for wrongful termination, citing many of the same reasons as Heinrichs and Bisson. In 2007 former nurses Jill Davidson and Nina Brown also sued for the same reason, citing patterns of intimidation against the staff. That suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

"Since approximately 2002, LRH has engaged in a campaign of intimidation directed at certain employees," Heinrichs alleged in his suit. "Many of whom are targeted because they refuse to ignore bad or dangerous hospital practices."

They have also been fired for doing things "LRH found offensive," even when it was ethical, Heinrichs alleged.

On many occasions Heinrichs said he tried to share concerns expressed to him by staff members about bullying but he was ignored or rebuffed each time.

From 1998 to his layoff several months ago, Heinrichs served as the pastor and pastoral care coordinator. During a trial of two former employees who sued LRH several years ago, Heinrichs testified on their behalf. In response he claims LRH fired him.

After the Davidson suit, LRH assigned Heinrichs to work with one of the defendants in that suit. That person, Antoinette Thomas required Heinrichs to take notes concerning counseling sessions he held in the course of his duties as pastor, sessions that were supposed to be kept confidential.

Bisson, a nurse with 20 years experience, alleged in her suit against LRH that conditions for the nursing staff were extreme, and that while many hospitals are understaffed, LRH was dangerously so. Many nurses worked for 12 hours at a time without even a break, she said.

The resignation of a department head just as she arrived left "the occupational and employee health departments in a turmoil."

Bisson also alleged that, like Heinrichs, when she tried to offer suggestions or opinions she was told they "were not welcome." Objections she made to using elderly volunteers to shred important documents, something they shouldn't have been asked to do she said, were ignored.

Both Heinrichs and Bisson are claiming economic damage and emotional distress and are looking to the court for unspecified compensation.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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