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Washington Hospital Center Strike

Washington Hospital Center Strike

Terri Polick | NursingLink

Zinn explained the events leading up to Lee’s termination from WHC. He said that Lee, a night nurse at WHC, had packed a suitcase and brought it into work with her the night before the storm hit the DC area. Lee had heard the forecast and prepared herself to get snowed in at work. Much to Lee’s dismay, WHC told her to go home at the end of her shift. Zinn said that Lee lives in a condo complex in suburban Maryland that wasn’t plowed out, and since the hospital was not offering transportation into the facility during the storm, she found herself snowed in at home. Zinn said he and other NNU officials believed that the hospital didn’t have a case that they would ultimately win Lee’s job back.

After his investigation, arbitrator Roger P. Kaplan, an attorney from Alexandria, Virginia, ordered WHC to cancel the termination of Geri Lee, and awarded her back pay for all but 10 days of the nearly 11 months since her dismissal. In his 37-page report, Kaplan said, “The evidence demonstrated that Lee has an exemplary performance record, having received awards, commendations, and testimonials from the employer as well as from patients. The evidence further showed that she has a clean disciplinary record and has not had attendance problems. This is a remarkable record built over 31-plus years of service.”

WHC was contacted for this story, but declined a request for an interview. They did, however, release the following statement:

“An arbitrator has issued his ruling in a case arising out of Washington Hospital Center’s discharge of one of our nurses for her conduct during the February 2010 snowstorm. The arbitrator has ruled that Ms. Geri Lee was insubordinate, but that her conduct did not amount to ‘gross misconduct’ warranting immediate discharge. As a result, the arbitrator ordered that her dismissal be converted to a 10-day suspension without pay, and that Ms. Lee be offered reinstatement to her former position as a labor and delivery nurse.

Throughout this process, the Hospital has remained committed to a fair and thorough review process — one sanctioned by the union — which culminated in this arbitrator’s ruling, and we now intend to follow this ruling.

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