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Fired nurse files lawsuit against Mercy Health in Muskegon Circuit Court

Michigan Nurses Association

After a Muskegon nurse was fired shortly after complaining about inadequate conditions at Hackley Hospital, the Michigan Nurses Association is taking Mercy Health to court. The former President of the Nurses Union at Mercy Health’s Hackley Campus, Justin Howe filed a lawsuit Monday in the Muskegon County Circuit Court against his former employer--claiming his termination was, a retaliation, after he spoke to a number of media outlets about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital staff as they treated patients suffering from the coronavirus.

The hospital denies that allegation, and claims Howe had been fired for violating HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The hospital says Howe did this by looking at the private electronic medical charts of patients without the need to do so.

Joining Howe in the lawsuit is the Michigan Nurses Association, where Jamie Brown serves as President. She said, in over a month since Howe’s termination, Hackley Hospital has not provided any proof to support its claims.

“Nurses are very careful with HIPAA information, and Justin has been a nurse for seven years,” Brown said. “Hackley hasn’t had any HIPAA violations in that time. As far as I know, we haven’t had any response.”

Mercy Health has issued this statement:

“Former Mercy Health Nurse Justin Howe's allegation that he was terminated for raising safety concerns is emphatically false.”

Meanwhile, the lawsuit claims that Howe’s termination violates the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act.

A number of Nurses at Hackley Hospital have been wearing stickers with the words “No Retaliation” as a show of support.