RNs at Springfield

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Registered Nurses (RNs) employed by Springfield State Hospital Center were denied the use of paid leave on the weekend of January 22, 2016 due to their essential employee status. The employees leave status was charged to code 86, unpaid, unexcused absence. On February 5, 2016 the employees contacted their Labor Relations Specialist, Michael Keeney for guidance and assistance. Mr. Keeney filed instant grievances on behalf of the RNs to ensure that their time frames were protected.

Mr. Keeney argued that although the employees were deemed as essential and as such are required to report to duty under emergency conditions, that the weekend of January 22, 2016 was in fact an unprecedented natural phenomenon which resulted in snowfalls of 32 inches. Additionally, the RNs had used their best efforts to brave the storm to report to work but that through no fault of their own were not able to do so. Also the employees had requested that the hospital provide them with transportation but were denied such. Mr. Keeney proffered that the Maryland Department of Transportation's (MDOT) wheel well limits restrict the height of vehicles and impose wheel well limits of height no greater than 21 inches. Simply put, snow fall accumulations greater than the height of the vehicle will result in the vehicle's inability to perform.

Springfield State Hospital agreed, and reversed their decision as a one-time exemption due to the mitigating circumstances that surrounded their absences. The employees were allowed to used paid leave to compensate their absence and their leave status was changed to paid leave.