OCALA, Fla. (CN) – A substance abuse counselor claims a rehab center fired him on the pretext that he had looked at pornographic websites on his work computer. The counselor says he was researching mother-son incest to help a patient who had suffered from it, and that his firing was actually retaliation for his refusal to falsify clinical charts.
James Robbins sued The Centers, an Ocala mental health center, in Marion County Court.
The real reason he was fired, Robbins claims, is that “during his employment, management personnel at the Centers instructed the plaintiff and other counselors to write clinical chart notes on group counseling clients where their clients were attending group sessions, but the counselors were not.”
Robbins says that he and the other counselors found these “charting procedures” difficult, to say the least. He says he objected to management, and that he was “the only counselor to speak up and question the appropriateness of these essentially falsified charting procedures.”
He adds: “The requirement to falsify charting procedures was abandoned four weeks after being implemented.”
He says this was not the only problematic or unethical conduct he witnessed or was asked to engage in. He claims his supervisors instructed him to diagnose his clients and prepare treatment plans for patients, though he was not qualified or trained to do so. And he claims the Centers staff altered a chart after an inmate escaped, stole a car and a gun, kidnapped his wife, and beat and raped her.
Eventually, Robbins says, “During his employment with the Centers, one of plaintiff’s clients confided in him during an individual counseling session that he had been a victim of mother-son incest.
“The client requested that he not share this information with certain staff because he did not trust all of the staff at the Centers. He did, however, grant permission to discuss the matter with a Centers employed psychiatrist.”
Robbins says he asked the psychiatrist for advice, and the doctor suggested “professional sources to review”.
The complaint states: “On June 8, 2010, plaintiff conducted Internet research on the subject of mother-son incest using as search terms the resources suggested by the Centers psychiatrist. The search parameters, given the nature of the subject being researched, caused numerous websites to be listed as potentially responsive, but some proved to be pornographic in nature. When plaintiff accessed these websites and realized they were pornographic, he immediately discontinued viewing same, and moved to other search engine suggested websites.”
Robbins says his supervisors questioned him about the websites he had called up and fired him a day later for viewing inappropriate material at work. He says his supervisors refused to confirm with the psychiatrist that Robbins’ research was legitimate.
He claims “the Centers used the event of the computer research on mother-son incest as a subterfuge to wrongfully dismiss him from employment in retaliation for his whistleblower actions.”
He also says the Centers defamed him by telling medical professionals that he drank vodka and watched pornography at work.
He seeks reinstatement, lost wages and damages for defamation, slander and whistleblower violations.
He is represented by Patrick Gilligan with Gilligan, King & Gooding.