Organizations have increasingly adopted compliance policies to ensure that they are able to comply with the legal, ethical and fiduciary standards and obligations which arise from its day to day operations. Cullinane (2012) contend that, this has been due to a number of factors such as; the increasing level of public and regulatory scrutiny of the multiple corporate financial scandals, increasing expectations of government regulators and the formulation and implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley law in 2002. Additionally, this has been influenced by the management standards, compliance regulatory guidance documents, and best practices recommendations that have been passed in recent times (Cullinane, 2012). Presently, institutions are endeavoring to establish and maintain appropriate and adequate compliance programs so as to mitigate the increasing legal battles, claims and liability exposure arising from the aspect of noncompliance.
There are more than 180 laws that affect both public and private sector employment. Key employment legislation are concerned with wage and hours, child labor, workplace safety and health, employee benefit security and plant closing and layoffs (Cullinane, 2012). Specifically, under the wage laws there is the Fair Labor Standards Act which dictates the requirements for minimum wage, overtime pay, youth employment and record keeping. Others key legislation under the wage laws are the Payday Law and Minimum Wage law while the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any forms of discrimination and harassment based on age, gender, race, color, national origin or religion. The and Family and Medical Leave Act makes provisions for unpaid leave for specific family circumstances (Cullinane, 2012).
Gloria Parks Vs University Hospitals Case Medical Center case
A recent court case involving employment discrimination and employee's right is the 2010 Gloria Parks Vs University Hospitals Case Medical Center case. The lawsuit was filed by Gloria Park, who worked as a medical assistant, against Cleveland's university hospital Medical center. She purported that the discrimination against her was due to her age leading to the loss of her job in 2008 after working for the institution for 30 years (Atassi, 2011). According to the plaintiff, her termination had stemmed from a patient identification incident in July 2008 in which Parks and a younger unidentified co-worker were involved in a pre-admission mix up. The details of the mix up indicate that, two patients having identical names appeared on the pre-admission testing department on the same morning to have their blood drawn and analyzed.
The hospital claimed that the appellant failed to follow proper patient identification policy procedure. Nonetheless, supporting witnesses testified that the policy was not properly followed and enforced by the employee who checked the patient that day. It is also evident that the wrong medical chart was passed to Ms. Parks, besides, the mistake was recognized and corrected before the patient left the department and the procedure was thereafter properly followed without any error. None of the patients was harmed although Parks was subsequently fired and the hospital changed its procedures with regards to the department's requirement of proof identification of the driver's license (Atassi, 2011).
A Case of Discrimination
The plaintiff specifically claimed that Steve Diltz, who had become her supervisor five months prior to the incident, had due to her age, singled her out and treated her differently comparative to her younger coworkers since being assigned to the department. Further evidence indicated that Diltz, utilized the identification incidence to ensure that Parks was fired, and his decision to terminate her employment unjustly was, without question supported by the Hospital's Human Resource Department which also failed to carry out any independent investigation. Although the incident had resulted from a patient complaint, the testimony of a third patient indicated that it was the department nurse and not Ms. Parks who had upset the patient during the day. Besides, whereas Parks was out-rightly dismissed, the patient was never disciplined (GPO, 2010).
The court viewed that Park's age discrimination was supported that Parks and a younger co-worker were both involved in the same incident. Nonetheless, Parks was discharged of her duties while no disciplinary action was taken against the younger co-worker, besides, further evidence indicated that other younger employees had made similar and even more serious mistakes with even more frequency within the department, yet they received no disciplinary or formal corrective action from the Human resource department or the hospital's management. Besides, there was no other long term employee who had been dismissed for a single mistake at the University Hospital which involved a patient in which there was no harm recorded.
At the time of the dismission, Parks was 54 and was known throughout the hospital she was considered one of the best phlebotomist (GPO, 2010). The hospital had a "Do Not Re-Hire" tag placed permanently in her personnel file and Diltz immediately replaced her by a younger worker. Evidence also indicated that the "Do Not Re-Hire" classification, which was a consequence of her firing, made her unable to find permanent employment within any hospital (Atassi, 2011). This led to the loss of her home, and an inability to find employment in a field she had worked in for close to three decades.
Organization Defense and Costs
The hospital defended its self by calling Oark's error an extreme case of misconduct' noting that Park not only failed to report the incident, but also ignored repeated calls from the patient that he was not there for liver surgery (GPO, 2010). Additionally, she also altered the patient's medical file and also deleted evidence of the unnecessary EKG which had happened as a result of the error. The hospital's attorneys also noted that, the error was only corrected since the anesthesia nurse later on performed a double patient identifier thereby identifying and correcting the Plaintiff's error before the patient's admission for the unnecessary liver surgery (GPO, 2010). The case was won by the plaintiff who was awarded $450,000 in compensatory damages and $450,000 for her economic loss. After a seven day trial, the jury established that age was a key determining factor in the Hospital's decision to end Ms. Parks employment. In terms of the lawsuit cost to the organization and the client, neither their attorneys were willing to disclose the lawyer's fees citing client privilege (GPO, 2010).
Agreeing with the jury's decision, Gloria Parks was unduly blamed and fired for the patient mi up while the younger co-worker was never formally disciplined for the same event, hence I am in support of the Jury's decision. The court decision could be deemed as a warning to organizations to ensure compliance with employ laws. It is evident that supervisors would not be left on their own since, at times, there is no process of cross checking whether their actions are discriminatory. The hospital management and the human resource department ought to have thoroughly investigated the case before outright dismissal.
Atassi, L. (2011, February 17). University Hospitals ordered to pay nearly $1 million in age discrimination lawsuit. Claveland Live, p. 1. Retrieved September 20, 2012, from cleveland.com/metro/2011/02/university_hospitals_ordered_t.html
Cullinane, M. (2012). New Year's Resolutions for Nonprofits-#6 Ensure Compliance with
Employment Laws. Cullinane Law
GPO. (2010). 10-2746-Parks V. University Hospital Case Medical Center. U.S.
Government Prining Pffice.