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Former chaplain sues Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center over discrimination

Lawsuit seeks $380,000 after Marshall Wattman-Turner was fired last March.


Alleging he was discriminated against over his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and auditory processing problems, a former chaplain at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center is suing the hospital for $380,000.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Legacy Meridian Park and its ownership group, Legacy Health, Marshall Wattman-Turner claimed he was not given accommodations that he requested for his condition, which the suit says constitutes a disability.

According to the lawsuit, Wattman-Turner was hired by Legacy Meridian Park in January 2013, working as both a chaplain and a member of the hospital's palliative care team. He told his supervisor, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, about his condition upon starting work, and when he encountered difficulties at work due to his condition, he spoke with his supervisor and asked for accommodations, the suit states.

But Wattman-Turner was fired in March 2015, according to the suit, after his supervisor and a human resources representative told him that his log-in to the hospital's secure computer system had been used for “unauthorized access” of a deceased patient's medical record. The suit acknowledges that Wattman-Turner “may have failed to log out of the electronic medical record while he was providing care,” which it attributes to his ADHD and auditory processing problems being “exacerbated” by the patient's death.

Wattman-Turner's attorney, Judy Danelle Snyder, said the hospital has declined to release data showing that Wattman-Turner's log-in was used improperly.

The lawsuit argues that Legacy Health and Legacy Meridian Park “engaged in an unlawful employment practice by failing to make … reasonable accommodations” for Wattman-Turner, such as holding meetings in private settings and providing him with a quiet work space due to his auditory processing problems, giving him a flexible start time due to his ADHD symptoms, and programming computer systems he worked with to automatically log him out of electronic medical records.

The suit also demands a trial by jury to determine whether Wattman-Turner's rights were violated. It asks for economic and compensatory damages totaling $380,000 and calls for either Wattman-Turner's reinstatement as hospital chaplain or for his “future” pay and benefits to be awarded to him.

“When an employee advises the employer that they have a disabling condition and they request assistance, any employer has a duty to work with the employee to find a way for the employee to effectively perform their job,” said Snyder. “Federal and state law both prohibit the employer from just ignoring the employee's request.”

She added, “Requests were made for accommodation and for assistance, and nothing happened.”

The usual timeframe for a complaint from the date of filing until a trial is about a year, Snyder said.

Piseth Pich, a spokesman for Legacy Meridian Park, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying, “We don't comment on any pending litigation.”