An Ontario nursing home must rehire a registered nurse who was caught stealing opioids on the job, and compensate her for her losses.
The nurse, identified only as “D.S.” had been fired by the Sunnyside Home in September 2016 after she had repeatedly stolen narcotics from the long-term care facility and falsified records, claiming she injected residents when she used them on herself. But an arbitrator ruled last week that the woman’s opioid addiction was a disability, and she must be rehired and paid for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect,” the Waterloo Region Record reported Monday.
“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that there is a connection or nexus between [her] substance use disorder and the adverse effect of termination of employment for violation of admittedly valid workplace rules,” arbitrator Larry Steinberg said.
After her firing, D.S. received treatment for her addiction, and her union, the Ontario Nurses Association, subsequently argued that she deserved a second chance. Steinberg agreed, with the amount of compensation to be determined at a later date, according to the Record.
D.S. “repeatedly” stole opioids, including hydromorphone and morphine, from the Kitchener, Ontario, nursing home during a two-year period ending in August 2016. She was put on paid leave at the end of that month and checked herself in for withdrawal treatment, while also admitting to the thefts. She was fired a month later, but asked for her job back after meeting certain conditions set by the College of Nurses of Ontario, and completing a 35-day, inpatient treatment program. Sunnyside Home refused.