Planned Parenthood Centers of West Michigan in Grand Rapids won a race discrimination case filed by a black health care specialist, who was fired for falsifying patient records and dispensing emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) without required staff approvals.
The specialist acknowledged that she had broken protocol, but argued that white employees had done the same without being fired.
In court, Planned Parenthood testified that its employees did not consistently follow the ECP protocol before January 2004, and they frequently altered charts to meet specifications after patients left the clinic. In January 2004, the agency held a staff meeting noting the deficiencies and warning all staff to comply with protocols or face termination. Two weeks later, the specialist was fired.
The U.S. District Court for Michigan’s Western District upheld the firing because the plaintiff could not show evidence of a similarly situated employee committing the same offense without being disciplined. In court, the specialist said she had heard of other employees doing the same thing, but agency files failed to confirm her suspicions.
Final note: Even if you haven’t been following procedures, you can change course. Hold a meeting with employees, reiterate that the rules will be enforced going forward and follow through.