Former OSDH Employees Consider Suing The State
OKLAHOMA CITY - Thursday, May 17, Attorney General Mike Hunter announced that the Oklahoma State Department of Health hid millions of dollars from the state legislature while demanding millions more and laying off nearly 200 people.
Now some of those former employees are considering suing the state.
Late last year, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said that it was $30 million short, so the legislature gave an emergency appropriation of $30 million and the agency laid nearly 200 people.
Turns out that money was never missing in the first place.
"It was devastation,” said Nurse Practitioner Theresa Nabors. “Confusion. Scared. Not knowing where to turn next. What I was going to do. And then worrying about the patients."
Nabors is one of the 198 former State Department of Health employees whose lives were turned upside down by, what the state attorney general called the, quote “devastating and disgraceful” layoffs.
"I never ever dreamed that I would lose my job at the State Health Department. And be turned upside down, the way that I have been turned upside down,” said Nabors.
But even worse for Nabors, was finding out the layoffs were totally unnecessary.
"Watching this on the news for the longest time I just sat there with my mouth hanging open. I just, I was so numb,” she said.
Nabors was forced to take a job in Tahlequaha, almost three hours away. Now she and other former employees are considering a class action lawsuit.
Former Department of Labor Attorney David Slane said they have a good case after the agency laid them off, blaming it on a financial crisis that didn’t really exist.
"That may very well not be a good reason and all 198 people potentially have a recourse to either get their back pay or get their jobs back,” said Slane.
"Each family suffered from this,” said Nabors. “Patients suffered from this. Tax payers are suffering and are going to suffer more from this. And there has to be repercussions. There has to be."
The State Department of Health says its reached out to 43 of the 198 people who have been laid off. Only two of them have accepted positions again.