CNA fired after reporting resident's mistreatment claim, lawsuit says

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A former certified nursing assistant at an Illinois CCRC is suing her ex-employer, alleging that she was fired for reporting a resident's mistreatment claim.

The lawsuit, filed by Juana Walsh last week, argues that Hearthstone Communities in Woodstock, IL, violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act when it fired her in November 2016. The suit names Hearthstone, its parent company, as well as its administrator and nursing director.

Walsh said a resident told her that he was “very afraid of” another nursing assistant, who he claimed had treated him roughly and told him to “keep quiet,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Walsh reported the concern to a nurse and the community's human resources director, and was asked to create a report about the resident's claims after he repeated them to a social worker.

The human resources director allegedly told Walsh the claims wouldn't be looked into because the resident was “confused,” and accused her of coaching the resident on what to tell the social worker.

Walsh created a report on the resident's allegations and shared them with the resident's brother. Shortly afterwards, administrators “accosted” her and called her a liar, the lawsuit claims. Administrators also reportedly told Walsh she had “put the entire place … at risk,” and accused her of drugging the resident and “stealing” his information.

Requests for comment from Hearthstone were not returned by production deadline Monday.

Jim Harrison, Walsh's attorney, told the Tribune that Hearthstone never formally notified the resident's family of the allegations.

“It's appalling that not only would they do this to this woman, but they didn't investigate it,” Harrison said. “You cannot fire someone under retaliation that is … clear public policy, [and] they fired her for reporting suspected abuse.”

Walsh's suit requests that she be reinstated to her job, and awarded two times back pay and more than $75,000 in damages.