Former Mecklenburg Co. Health Department nurse alleges whistleblower retaliation in new lawsuit

Former Mecklenburg Co. Health Department nurse alleges whistleblower retaliation in new lawsuit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A former nurse at the Mecklenburg County Health Department has filed a lawsuit against the department and the county, claiming she was fired for raising concerns about the department’s handling of testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court in June but was moved to federal court this week.

In the lawsuit, the former nurse, Veronica Polk, claims she was retaliated against after escalating her concerns to increasingly higher levels of health department and county leadership.

“When Ms. Polk’s attempts to address the issues internally within the Health Department were dismissed and ignored, she spoke out to County officials,” the lawsuit says. “The County terminated Plaintiff shortly after she reported these issues to county commissioners.”

Polk worked in a unit that tested people for sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the lawsuit, Polk’s concerns included inaccurate and untimely STD test results being provided to patients, failure to provide language translation for non-English speaking patients, lack of patient care and lack of oversight.

The lawsuit says she was fired in April 2019 after addressing her concerns at a county commissioners meeting. Her decision to speak at that meeting, the lawsuit said, came after nothing had been done to address her complaints within the health department.

Polk is at least the third health department employee to file a lawsuit against the department and the county since 2018 claiming to have been fired as a result of blowing the whistle.

A county spokeswoman declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing litigation.

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