Irena Gailiutė, a nurse who has been working here since 1972, who has clarified her relationship with the Republican Klaipėda Hospital in several cases, suffered a rather painful blow.
The Klaipėda District Court annulled the decision of the first instance in her favor and ordered the woman to pay almost 7 thousand to the hospital. EUR litigation costs.
The dispute ended up in court at the initiative of I. Gailiutė – the woman filed a lawsuit in which she requested to recognize her dismissal as illegal and to return her to the position of senior nurse in the Urology Department and to award her wages for the time of forced absence, as well as EUR 3,000 in non-pecuniary damages.
After the previous litigation, I. Gailiutė was returned to the position of senior nurse of the department by the court’s decision from May 7 of last year, but already on June 18. by order of the director, he was dismissed again due to gross violation of work duties (violated the honor and dignity of other employees) without warning and without payment of severance pay.
I. Gailiutė received complaints because she informed one nurse without reason that the office where she works would be closed, and called the other a fat woman in front of the entire team. Claims were made against I. Gailiutei and because she did not ensure the required amount of medicines in the department, she did not approve the nurses’ work schedule in time.
In May of this year, the Klaipėda district court partially satisfied the woman’s claim – it recognized that she was dismissed illegally and awarded an average salary of EUR 1,653.96 (before taxes) for the period of forced absence until the day of execution of the decision, but no longer than one year. They also awarded her compensation of six months’ wages (before taxes), 500 euros in non-pecuniary damages. I. Gailiutė was not returned to work, as all the witnessing colleagues stated that this would cause a negative psychological climate. During the hearing, the nurses indicated enough negative characteristics of the colleague, on the basis of which the court concluded that if I. Gailiutei returned to work, the efficiency of the staff’s work would decrease, and as a result, not only the people working in the department, but also the patients would suffer.
The hospital, which submitted a complaint to the district court, stated that the investigation against I. Gailiutė was started after receiving as many as four service reports regarding her behavior and a letter signed by as many as twelve nurses of the department, in which they informed that they refuse to work in the department she heads. I. Gailiutė was dismissed after the unanimous decision of the hospital’s Ethics Commission.
The hospital also stated in its complaint that there is no difference – in the general or diminutive form – in relation to the subordinate employee. I. Gailiutė used the word “stora”, because this kind of retorts are not compatible with the work environment.
I. Gailiutė herself asked the district court to partially change the decision of the first instance court – to return her to her previous job and to award non-pecuniary damage of EUR 3,000. The former nurse testified in her complaint that the claims against her from the hospital’s administration appeared only when Anželika Zavackienė started working as deputy director of nursing. It is said that it was thanks to the latter that “an organized collective war began” against her, which ended in illegal dismissal in 2020. And when the court returned her to her position last year, she said that she immediately felt pressure, mobbing, but it does not mean at all that the situation may repeat itself after the court returns her to work again. I. Gailiutė emphasized that in order to avoid mobbing and abuse by her employer, she applied to the prosecutor’s office and was granted whistleblower status by order of the general prosecutor.
Responding to this, the hospital submitted information to the court that the violations of I. Gailiutė’s work duties had been recorded since 1990.
The panel that examined the case, which consisted of judges Raimonda Andrulienė, Kristina Domarkienė and Aušra Maškevičienė, concluded that the hospital’s complaint is satisfactory.
“In the case under consideration, the panel of judges, evaluating each violation committed by the plaintiff, i.e. not ensuring the amount of medication in the department, and preparing the nurses’ work schedule late, and disseminating unconfirmed information that puts stress on other employees of the department, and using inappropriate expressions and epithets to describe the appearance of other employees of the department, states that each of these violations, considered separately as a one-time violation, would not provide grounds for claiming that the plaintiff committed a gross violation of work procedures. However, bearing in mind the total number of cases of illegal behavior of the plaintiff as a senior nurse in a relatively short period of time and their nature, the mentioned violations of the work procedure cannot be evaluated in isolation from each other, since in this case it would not be possible to reveal the essence of the case. <�…> In the assessment of the panel of judges, the senior nurse had the duty to properly organize the work of the nurses subordinate to her, she was obliged to treat all employees politely, respectfully and with restraint, to respect their opinions, to maintain a business-like working atmosphere, but the information provided in the official reports submitted by the department’s nurses presupposes the conclusion that the plaintiff did not fulfill these obligations. It should be noted that while occupying a managerial position, the plaintiff had to be an example to other nurses in the department, to be able to encourage, encourage and understand their need to feel safe in the work environment, to ensure the opportunity to confidently apply for all questions that arose during the performance of their work functions and to organize the work of nurses in such a way that there would be no shortage of working tools and additional stress as a result. Meanwhile, the above circumstances allow the court to conclude that the plaintiff behaved in the opposite way towards her colleagues. In the assessment of the appellate court, this way of communication is completely incompatible with the requirements of professional ethics for the duties of a senior nurse and the established duty to treat subordinate colleagues with respect and to maintain a professional working atmosphere. It should be noted that the established and previously discussed nature of the plaintiff’s communication, among other things, harms the microclimate in the entire hospital team, which in turn affects the quality of work and its productivity”, reads the court decision, according to which I. Gailiutė’s violations of work duties are assessed as harsh and its release is considered a proportionate measure.
The court also found that there is enough evidence to show that when I. Gailiutei returned to work in the department, there was constant psychological tension and disrespect towards other nurses. According to the panel, it is also important to emphasize the fact that I. Gailiutė herself did not admit her guilt in principle, denied the explanations of other nurses and considered them fabricated, therefore it is acceptable to the arguments given by the hospital that there is no reason to believe that the former employee’s behavior could improve in the future.
After annulling the decision of the first instance, in favor of I. Gailiutė Hospital, 4,219.3 EUR of legal costs incurred in the district court and 2,552.25 EUR of such costs were awarded in the district court.
This week, I. Gailiutė also heard a decision in her favor in the district court – the woman managed to prove that the Klaipėda Republican Hospital did not properly organize the COVID-19 testing for its employees. However, a couple of months ago, this court agreed with the assessment of the first instance that she was justifiably dismissed from her job at the Klaipėda Republican Hospital, because she had committed two violations of the order providing for the management of COVID-19 within a couple of months.
In 2010, I. Gailiutė was chosen by the readers of the daily “Vakaru ekspreso” as the most sincere and beloved nurse in Western Lithuania. She currently holds the position of the elder of Klaipėda City’s Brožyno Street, and is delegated to the Ethics Commission of the Klaipėda City Council.
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