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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Firing After HIV-Needle Prick Called Unfair

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A staffing agency retaliated against a woman who was stuck with a hypodermic needle just after it was used on an HIV-positive patient, she says in court.

Rosaline Serrano, a medical assistant, filed the complaint against Staffing Now Inc. on Monday in the Court of Common Pleas.

The agency had allegedly placed her in May 2013 with the Philadelphia Health Management Corp. Care Clinic.

In the course of her duties on Sept. 12 that year, Serrano was stuck with a hypodermic needle that had just "been used on a patient who was positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus," according to the complaint.

Worried about her exposure to HIV, Serrano says she immediately called her on-site supervisor at Staffing Now, who then informed Staffing Now's senior staffing manager.

After learning that Serrano needed workers' compensation benefits for immediate medical treatment, Staffing Now "embarked on a campaign of retaliation against plaintiff Serrano," the complaint states.

Serrano says her Staffing Now manager "refused to authorize medical treatment for" her, but that she went to a hospital anyway based on the advice of her on-site manager.

The next day, Staffing Now "abruptly terminated plaintiff Serrano's employment for allegedly performing acts that were not in her job description," the complaint states.

Staffing Now's senior staffing manager allegedly "informed plaintiff Serrano that she could no longer work for the defendant because she had impermissibly used hypodermic needles while at work."

Serrano says the manager claimed that working with hypodermic needles or giving injections were not included in her job description.

"Hover, said job description did provide for plaintiff Serrano's conduct," the complaint states. "Specifically, the PHMC job description for the position of medical assistant states that one of the 'essential duties and responsibilities' of the position was to give 'injections when needed' and 'immunizations when needed."

The nine-page action demands punitive damages and front pay for wrongful discharge and violation of Pennsylvania public policy.

Serrano is represented by attorney Sidney Gold.

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