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"Whistleblower" sues Ballad Health claiming wrongful termination

Matthew Lane • Apr 16, 2020 at 12:00 PM

GREENEVILLE — A Scott County, Virginia, woman has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Ballad Health, claiming she was wrongfully terminated from her position after she spoke out against the company.

Sabrina Gray filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in February. Gray seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages and claims her firing violates the Tennessee Whistleblower Act.

Greeneville attorney Francis X. Santore Jr. is representing Gray in the matter. Santore is also representing 10 local residents who filed a class action lawsuit against Ballad Health, ETSU Physicians and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors.

According Gray’s lawsuit, she was employed at Holston Valley Medical Center in February 2014 as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular surgical department. She worked at this job until her termination in April 2019.

The lawsuit states that one of the pure heart operating rooms was converted to a hybrid room where different cardiovascular procedures were undertaken and as a result, Gray claims this gave more work to her and her coworkers, since they had to work both the heart and vascular cases.

It essentially caused her to be overworked and forced her to deal with argumentative staff inside and outside the operating room, the lawsuit states.

Following is a timeline of events, as listed in the lawsuit, that ensued in 2019:

January — Gray was supposed to receive a 2% pay raise, but rather she received a lump sum increase.

February — Gray spoke out at a public meeting at Northeast State Community College about the activities allegedly undertaken by Ballad Health in violation of the COPA. “In doing so, Gray figuratively signed her own death warrant,” the lawsuit states.

March — When Gray attempted to reach two coworkers during an emergency, she accidentally left an outburst on one of their voicemails. This was done out of extreme frustration, according to the lawsuit. Gray said she self-reported it to her supervisor and was later given a verbal warning.

April — Gray was terminated from her position at Ballad Health for this and another outburst, the lawsuit contends.

According to the lawsuit, Gray claims she was wrongfully terminated from her position in violation of the Tennessee Whistleblower Act. Ballad Health had no comment on the lawsuit.

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