Pennsylvania Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside nurse says she was refused accommodations following attacks by patients

By Charmaine Little | Sep 19, 2019

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PITTSBURGH - UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside was accused of violating the Human Relations Act by one of its psychiatric nurses who had been attacked by patients in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on July 26. She filed the suit after allegedly being refused reasonable accommodations.

Deborah J. McCall was brought on as a psychiatric nurse for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (which is owned by UPMC Shadyside) in 1998. She had already been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, pernicious anemia, neuropathy and spinal stenosis.

Her issues date back to 2014 when a psychiatric patient assaulted her, causing her to experience physical and mental injuries, the suit says. She had to miss work from November 9, 2014 through January 30, 2015, the suit says. 

Upon her return, she asked for reasonable accommodation from her supervisors, and asked to be reassigned to another position. Instead of accommodating her, she was told she could call off work if her symptoms got worse, the suit says.

But she says she was assaulted again in 2016 by another psychiatric patient. Along with the injuries from her first attack, she says she also suffered an injury in her hip. 

She asked for reasonable accommodations again, but she was allegedly denied again. She later filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and she was granted the right to sue in July 2018, which she did, alleging violations of the Human Relations Act, the suit says.

“Plaintiff believes and therefore avers that she has been a victim of discrimination, as a result of her physical and psychological disabilities,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiff believes and therefore avers that she has been further discriminated against on the basis of retaliation for requesting an accommodation due to her physical and psychological disabilities.”

She asked the court for specific relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages and attorney fees and court costs that the court sees as fair.

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Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County