A Commonwealth employee passes away on the job after administrators allegedly refused to accept her doctor’s note

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My late sister-in-law was a long-term and highly regarded employee of DDS and was ready to retire in a few months. She had some attendance problems due to significant illness and provided her employers with doctor’s notes stating that she was impaired and needed to go on an intermittent Leave of Absence as per her condition. She was a 35+-year employee.
She was told that her doctor’s note would not be accepted and that she had to report to work or she would be terminated.
Laurie was single and could not afford to lose her job. She reported for duty on third shift and was instructed to work alone, although she felt uncomfortable doing so.
She suffered a stroke and died that evening on duty following an argument with her supervisor. 
The center fought the family, whose lawyer told them what my lawyer told me: you cannot afford to fight the Commonwealth.
Due to my own egregious situation, I had worked with the union and recalled a similar incident a year before where an employee’s doctor note was not accepted, and she deceased on duty. My sister-in-law was the second fatality of this practice. What bothered me most is that I was informed by the family that the administration had questioned Laurie a month prior to her death and specifically asked if she’d been talking to me. My MCAD complaints had been getting quite a bit of publicity, and I had recently transferred to DMH (where they could not get me, but my personnel record was “lost” for the first year and I could not retire without seniority. It was later found in DDS after a friend who worked in DDS supported me).

I cannot express my total shock and aversion for a system that I had previously had much faith in when I heard that my sister had deceased on duty following administrative harassment emanating from an agency and facility that I had placed my trust in and had regarded highly for over 30 years.

When I worked for DMH as a peer counselor, I would find on a frighteningly consistent basis people reporting anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation regarding turmoil and harassment in their workplace.
We must impress upon our legislators how egregious and widespread this workplace bullying phenomena is and how it affects not only their Massachusetts workforce but the mental health of many of their constituents as well. As a DMH counselor, I personally supported many victims who reported to emergency services and crisis stabilization units where I worked. Currently, as a part time peer counselor working for a private vendor agency in crisis stabilization, I continue to see these individuals fairly consistently.
If I didn’t have my own personal experience as well as my experience working on the front lines in the mental health field, I would never know that workplace bullying existed and, quite honestly, I would likely have thought it was much ado about nothing and also that it would be too costly an undertaking for the Commonwealth. Today, after all that I have experienced, I realize that it is too costly for the Commonwealth NOT to prevent workplace bullying.

 


Share your workplace bullying story. Email to info@mahealthyworkplace.com in one page along with an optional photo:

Where did you work and what did you do?
How did the bullying begin? What tactics were used?
How did you feel?
How did it escalate?
How did your employer react (or not react)?
What was the impact on you?
What was the impact on the organization?
Why do you want workplace bullying legislation to pass?
What advice do you have for others going through bullying at work?

3 comments

  1. Bonnie Curran

    This is disgusting, I just read it, reminds me of something I overheard I think she came in via dmh and I overheard her at BEST handling an emergency, a case like this while working my last job (dmh shares space), I think she was served via my agency too thought it was the girl from Everett possibly which is what freaked me out when she went missing that time. OMG

  2. Former DDS Nurse

    A slew of Commonwealth employees from DDS have stories to tell. Bullying, mobbing, lying, punching in and leaving, stealing, sleeping on the job and poor quality of care have resulted in patient deaths.
    Management does nothing but to instigate and participate in the behavior.
    Families of these patients who entrusted their loved ones to DDS do not realize what they would also be up against if they sued. Just like employees, they too will go against the nastiest team of lawyers who are in place just to beat lawsuits down. And we the taxpayers fund the both sides which is obviously counter productive and promotes abuse by management and employees.
    The head of DDS and the Governor have done nothing to resolve the issues within these corrupt government agencies, the same ones that protect predatory offending employees and also maintain the licensing boards.
    DDS will come down on vendor agencies and fine them with the blink of an eye, but literally get away with murder.
    It’s time to bust this wide open and expose the truth.
    If you now work or have worked for a healthcare sector of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts please send your story to the address below,
    Not only will this help you and other employees, but forcing state employees to do their job properly will save lives.

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