A former Backus Hospital security guard has sued the facility claiming he was constructively terminated after management allegedly failed to address concerns staff were endangered by patients.
The lawsuit says Charles Dickinson was forced to resign in June 2016 after his supervisor, Andrew Ellis, and the hospital repeatedly failed to address safety concerns. While Dickinson resigned because of the those concerns, the lawsuit claims he was essentially fired because of the inaction.
In his lawsuit filed in Middletown Superior Court in July and moved to U.S. District Court Friday, Dickinson said security guards witnessed multiple patients break loose from ineffective nylon Velcro restraints, and attacks on employees. Dickinson offered solutions to fix the safety issues, but his requests were always rejected, according to the lawsuit.
For example, Dickinson, who was hired in March 2014, requested new restraints, according to the complaint.
In April 2016, Dickinson, an East Hampton resident, was transferred from the hospital to work as a security guard for the Backus Outpatient Care Center. There, Dickinson claims he saw numerous safety issues.
On one occasion, the lawsuit claims, a psychiatric patient jumped over the nurse’s station and attacked him and another hospital employee. Following the incident, Dickinson’s request that dividers be placed at the station was rejected.
On more than one occasion, patients became violent and picked up chairs and used them as makeshift shields and weapons, according to the lawsuit. Staff injuries were reported to security nearly every week.
Dickinson claims he also requested an acrylic shield to prevent contact with out-of-control patients. He also requested a PR-24 baton, a tool for protection when used with effective blocking techniques that the security guards were trained in, according to the lawsuit.
In addition, Dickinson claims he was frequently asked to perform jobs outside the scope of his regular duties. Examples included being asked to watch the gift shop and to hold children down while their blood was drawn.
“There was only one security officer at BOCC and to take that person away from their function of guarding the safety of the staff and patients at BOCC puts everybody at risk,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit seeks at least $15,000 in damages.
David Jimenez and Sally Welsh St. Onge of Jackson Lewis in Hartford represent the hospital. Jimenez said Monday the hospital declined to comment.
Ellis no longer works at the hospital. The hospital did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Jamie Sullivan, managing partner with Howard, Kohn, Sprague & FitzGerald in Hartford, represents Dickinson. Sullivan also did not respond to a request for comment Monday.