Ohio Nurse Wins $2 Million from Jury after NLRB ALJ Rules in Her Favor

Employees and plaintiff lawyers are savvy these days. They know that the best way to get a fast settlement is to cripple a company by filing several workplace charges in a variety of places like the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, the National Labor Relations Board, and the court system, to name a few. And, that’s precisely what one Ohio nurse did, and it paid off pretty well for her.

In 2013, a nurse was leading a union organizing drive at the hospital where she worked. She was a 24-year employee who was fired during the drive for violating policies and procedures for patient care. After her termination, her employer sent a complaint to the Ohio Board of Nursing seeking to have her nursing license suspended or revoked. The NLRB ALJ determined her firing was pretextual and that the hospital retaliated against her for her union activity. The hospital was ordered to re-hire her, pay her back wages, and withdraw its efforts to have her nursing license revoked. The hospital refused, so the NLRB sought a Section 10(j) injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to force the hospital to immediately reinstate the worker and to bargain for a first collective bargaining agreement even though no union election was held.

Simultaneously, the nurse filed a lawsuit in Ohio’s common pleas court system against the hospital for defamation of character because the hospital sought to have her nursing license revoked. She won, and the hospital was ordered to pay $800,000 in compensatory damages, $750,000 in punitive damages, and all of her attorneys’ legal costs, easily exceeding $100,000.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.