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NEWS | Legal Matters Ask The Legal Expert Highest court: Facilities fair John Durso, Esq. Ungaretti & Harris LLP game for civil rights suits By James M. Berklan My boss is leaning on me to The U.S. Supreme Court contribute my time or money has let stand a federal appeal (or both) to his favorite charity. court’s ruling that nursing Is this legal? homes can be named in private civil rights lawsuits alleging Generally, a boss’s request for chari- inadequate care. Photo: SCOTUS table donations is not improper or ille- The decision directly applies gal unless he or she uses intimidation to county- and state-run nurs- tactics, threats, coercion or discrimina- ing facilities but also could have The U.S. Supreme Court has decided a lower court’s ruling that poten- tion to obtain the donation. Asking for some impact on cases against tially exposes nursing homes to more lawsuits is sufﬁcient. charitable donations is not illegal as private facilities, according to review the lower court’s ruling. a facility on behalf of a resident long as nobody is forced to contribute. Eric Carlson of the National “Shocking” is how the Ameri- in the event of inadequate care However, if you were going to take Senior Citizens Law Center. can Health Care Association and wrongful death. action against an employer for trying At the heart of the ruling once described the lower At the time of the decision, to force you to donate, you would have is the opinion that the Nurs- court’s decision in the case. an attorney for AHCA com- to prove that coercion of some sort ing Home Reform Law can In John J. Kane Regional plained that the FNHRA had actually took place. Unfortunately for be enforced through a federal Centers-Glen Hazel v. Gram- never been used to allow such employees, proof of coercion may be provision that prohibits local mer, the U.S. Court of Appeals a private right of action since difﬁcult to produce, especially if the governments from depriving for the Third Circuit ruled their passage in 1987. coercion took place during an informal, an individual of his or her fed- that the Federal Nursing The FNHRA were passed closed-door conversation. eral rights, Carlson noted. Home Reform Amendments in order to provide more over- If your boss’s favorite charity hap- The two biggest nursing (FNHRA) guarantee a nursing sight of the quality of care and pens to be a certain political campaign, home associations and at least home resident’s civil rights. It residents’ rights standards for you may have a remedy under the 14 states signed a petition, urg- held that a private civil rights nursing homes that participate Federal Election Campaign Act or other ing Supreme Court justices to lawsuit may be brought against in Medicare and Medicaid. ■ federal laws. Also, if your boss asks you to volun- teer your time, wage and hour laws may
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