Federal court dismisses Pa. jail nurse’s retaliation suit

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

PITTSBURGH — A federal judge has dismissed a free-speech lawsuit filed by a registered nurse who claims the Allegheny County Jail and a related nonprofit that provides inmate medical services fired her for complaining about the care of an inmate who later died.

The judge yesterday ruled that Sherry Anderson’s free-speech rights weren’t compromised because her comments were addressed only to two supervisors, so she was “speaking as an employee rather than as a private citizen” — therefore her comments weren’t constitutionally protected.

The 44-year-old nurse’s attorney says he’ll likely refile her wrongful firing and whistleblower claims in Common Pleas court where relevant state laws can be applied.

An official with Allegheny Correctional Health Services previously said Anderson was fired for violating work rules, not for complaining about the May death of inmate Derek Black.

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