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COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Health Emergency Law & Policy Responses

Ho v. Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital, L.L.C.


Ho v. Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital, L.L.C. (Oklahoma Supreme Court, Dec. 14, 2021): An Oklahoma nurse brought a wrongful discharge claim against her employer after being terminated for missing work because she refused to provide nursing services without personal protective equipment. Despite the Governor’s executive order to cease or postpone elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nurse argued that the hospital continued its elective surgery operations, and that she did not go to work due to health concerns. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found that the nurse had a viable wrongful discharge claim. The state supreme court emphasized that reducing the spread of infectious disease is a priority of the state. Further, the termination could support a wrongful discharge claim because the legislature expressly granted emergency order authority to the Governor, and those orders established “public policy of curtailing an infectious disease,” creating an exception to at-will employment under the circumstances. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – January 18, 2022.

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