Hospital worker says she was fired for disability, refusal to work for free

CHARLESTON – A woman is suing a Charleston hospital and two employees, saying she was fired via a shady drug test she claims she was given because she refused to falsify time records and because she has a disability.

Jennifer Dotson filed a lawsuit April 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Thomas Health Systems, doing business as St. Francis Hospital, Kimberly Oldecker and Cathy McCarty.

Dotson was a full-time phlebotomist at the hospital before she was fired on Jan. 2, 2009, the complaint says. The hospital still owes her accrued wages and benefits, Dotson contends.

She claims she was made to take a "for cause" drug test in Sept. 2008, which she describes as unwarranted. She says no one ever told her why she was being made to take the test.

In early October 2008, Dotson claims that a medical review officer at St. Francis declared that the drug test was negative.

But a management-level employee at the hospital released the raw test data to Oldecker and McCarty, who are described in the complaint as controlling the distribution of pay to Dotson. The complaint says that Oldecker and McCarty concluded that the raw data demonstrated impairment from or abuse of drugs.

Dotson says that she suffers from a disability, one that hospital officials had allegedly refused to accommodate. Dotson's complaint does not describe the disability.

Immediately before having to take the drug test, Dotson claims her supervisor told her to falsify her time records and not seek pay for the time she worked through a scheduled lunch break.

Dotson objected to this instruction and believes the drug test was administered in retaliation.

She's seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Mark Toor is representing the plaintiff. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-718

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