Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Former PHS Employee Awarded $200,000 for Retaliation, Age Discrimination

On August 16, 2001, a Maine jury awarded $200,000 to a registered nurse who
claimed she was fired by Prison Health Services (PHS) for voicing concerns
about the quality of care being provided to juvenile prisoners and because
of her age.

The plaintiff worked at the Northern Maine Juvenile Detention Facility for
approximately 2 years as an employee of Prison Health Services, which
contracted with the state to provide medical care at the prison. According
to the plaintiff, she was a consistent critic of PHS procedures that put
employees and juvenile prisoners at risk. The complained of procedures
included under supervising, understaffing, and undersupplying the medical
needs of the prisoners. The plaintiff claimed that because of her criticism
and her age she was passed over for promotion five times.

After filing a Maine Human Rights Act complaint in July 1999, the plaintiff
was assigned to draw blood, a skill she contends is not taught in nursing
school. When the plaintiff refused PHS's offer of in-house
training--instead insisting on formal training, which she claims PHS
promised when she was hired--she was given a disciplinary write-up, which
she refused to sign without talking to an attorney. The plaintiff
ultimately paid for formal training herself.

At trial one of the plaintiff's coworkers testified that a supervisor had
once referred to the plaintiff as a "crazy old redhead." The plaintiff also
asserted that the nurse hired to replace her was a former PHS employee with
a history of complaints against him. The complaints were related to his
improper filing of lab reports, errors in medication administration and
narcotic counts, and "counseling sessions with an adult female which took
place behind a locked door."

The jury found the plaintiff's testimony to be more credible than that of
the defendant's and awarded her $200,000 in damages ($125,000 punitive and
$75,000 compensatory). The total recovery, including attorney fees,
interest, and front and back pay claims, was estimated to be approximately
$400,000. The plaintiff was represented by Arthur J. Greif of the Bangor
firm Gilbert & Greif.

See: Gilles v. Prison Health Services, Penobscot County Superior Court,
Case No. CV-2000-83.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Gilles v. Prison Health Services

no case text.