LAG Protests Hospital Firings

UVa’s Labor Action Group is protesting the recent firing of nine felons from the UVa Medical Center. They call the firings “part of a misguided effort by management to deflect criticism from its own failure to respond to workplace and patient safety issues.” In conjunction with the NAACP, they’ll be holding a rally on Friday, at noon, on the corner of JPA and Lee Street. Read on to see LAG’s press release.



CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va–The Labor Action Group (LAG) at the University of Virginia finds the recent firings of hospital employees with felony records to exemplify continued unfair treatment of employees by the University’s Health Sciences Center administration. In response, they will hold a rally in support of the Hospital Nine on Friday, June 8, 2001 at noon, in conjunction with the local chapter of the NAACP.

Last week, nine hospital workers were terminated following the arrest of an employee on charges that he raped a woman who was hospitalized in the facility. The Labor Action Group believes that the mass firings are part of a misguided effort by management to deflect criticism from its own failure to respond to workplace and patient safety issues.

In no uncertain terms, the Labor Action Group condemns the administration’s failure to take sensible measures that could have prevented additional assaults once they were aware of the first incident. Press reports indicate that at least three women were sexually assaulted in the hospital’s psychiatric ward. “Patient and employee safety is obviously a high priority, and while this may have been the reasoning behind the hospital’s actions against the nine employees, I am alarmed that they didn’t take patients’ safety into consideration when the first charge was filed. It would have been simple to change the accused employee’s responsibilities so that he had no contact with patients–especially women as vulnerable as those who are medicated and under psychiatric care. In addition, there is no direct connection between a past felony conviction for a non-violent offense, including drug use, and rape or assault,” said Claire N. Kaplan, UVa’s Sexual Assault Education Coordinator and LAG member. LAG believes that the administration’s response to these assaults smacks of a dismissal of women’s voices that perpetuates further abuses and violence against them.

LAG sees these blanket terminations as arbitrary and inappropriate, and an attempt by the administration to compensate for its own negligence. Hospital administrators neatly drew the line at those who may have had official recourse by dismissing those who worked for less than six months or were temporary hires and thus had no rights through grievance or other channels.

In responding to the alleged assaults, the Health Sciences Center is now creating new victims. By precipitously firing all temporary or probationary employees with felony records — even those who disclosed those convictions when they were hired — the hospital administration has violated all tenets of fairness. The terminations came without warning and without any logical basis. Employees were fired for nonviolent offenses ranging from traffic violations to drug convictions. Some convictions occurred over 10 years ago. The administration has not shown that these employees posed any risk to patients or co-workers and therefore cannot rationally justify its actions. LAG is outraged at this action and questions the ability of the hospital administration to respond appropriately when a crisis of this nature arises.

The Labor Action Group, the NAACP, and representatives of other organizations will speak at Friday’s rally at noon, to be held at the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and Lee Street. For further information, contact Susan Fraiman at 977-1497, Jan Cornell at 286-9432, or Susan Fogler at 296-3141.

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