Firing a Healthcare Worker for Elder Abuse

Sometimes it's necessary to fire a caregiver aide for abuse of the elderly. It's important to know how to avoid retaliation and a lawsuit.

What's In This Article?

  • Firing the Aides
  • The Threats Start
  • How Small Claims Court Mistreats the Elderly
  • Importance of Power Of Attorney for Litigation
  • Over a Year of Court Delays
  • Elder Abuse in the Court System

Sometimes it's necessary to fire a caregiver aide for abuse of the elderly. It's important to know how to avoid retaliation and a lawsuit.
Sometimes it's necessary to fire a caregiver aide for abuse of the elderly. It's important to know how to avoid retaliation and a lawsuit. | Source

This is a personal account of my experience firing my Aunt's eldercare aide. The purpose of this article is to give you some idea of what to expect and how to handle the consequences.

It started pretty innocently. I noticed that two of my Aunt's aides were increasing their purchases of staples and food.

I knew my Aunt couldn’t have been using so much. I realized that they must have been taking things home for themselves.

Firing the Aides

Things got out of hand when one day my Aunt complained that one of the girls was yelling at her and losing her temper. Therefore I decided that I needed to replace both of them.

After finding replacement aides through another local heath care agency, I fired both of them and paid them up-to-date including for the entire last day.

The Threats Start

Shortly after that one of them called my Aunt and threatened her. She told her “You are going to have a hell of a time.” I tried to report this as elder abuse to the local authorities but was told that nothing can be done unless she actually tried something.

Within a few weeks my Aunt received a registered letter from Small Claims Court with a subpoena to appear in court. I considered this frivolous but since it was legally registered through the courts it could not be written off as abuse.

The aide was suing for being fired and for missing wages. Well the fact of the matter is that New York law allows one to fire someone without cause as long as it is not for discrimination. But the missing wages suit needed to be resolved.

How Small Claims Court Mistreats the Elderly

By the way, she didn’t sue me. She sued my Aunt who was 97 at the time. At that age, and her frail condition, there was no way my Aunt would survive going to court.

If she is not here when we call her then she will be found guilty."

— Court clerk's reply about elderly defendant.

Appearance in court by my Aunt was required by the New York Small Claims Court because my Power Of Attorney did not include litigation rights. That meant that I could not fight her case for her.

Okay, I can understand rules are rules. But the way the court clerk insisted that my Aunt had to appear in court was unacceptable and is a bad reflection on how New York State treats the elderly. When I told the clerk she was 97 she simply said "That doesn't matter. If she is not here when we call her then she will be found guilty."

Importance of Power Of Attorney for Litigation

Durable General Power Of Attorney
Durable General Power Of Attorney | Source

I did my own research and found out all I had to do was get the proper POA showing that she gives permission for me to litigate on her behalf.

I ended up purchasing and downloading a Power Of Attorney Form from a legal form site that I found with a Google search. I had to bring my Aunt to the bank in her wheelchair to have the form signed and notarized in front of a bank notary.

Several lawyers told me to handle the case myself since they would end up having to charge me for waiting numerous times for trial, as I was about to discover.

Over a Year of Court Delays

Despite Elderly Defendant's Age of 97

So now I could litigate her case. It took seven visits to the court. Each time there was only one judge and hundreds of cases. So each time I was sent home again with another court date usually about two months later. This whole thing dragged on for well over a year.

If we used an arbitrator we could have had the case heard at once. But both parties have to agree to an arbitrator. The aide insisted on having a judge because she didn’t want to accept the fact that the decision of an arbitrator is final. So we kept going back every other month.

Elder Abuse in the Court System

Court is just waiting for old defendants to die.

By the seventh trip to the court I had reached my limit of frustration. Even though I was not dragging my Aunt in, I was still spending a lot of my own time with all the trips just waiting in the courtroom for the clerk to send us home again.

So this last time when the clerk once again said we had to come back, I yelled at her loud enough for everyone in the courtroom to hear...

"This is totally unacceptable to drag this on over a year for a defendant who is 98 years old!. This is elder abuse if I ever saw one!"

Courts don't care how old one is.
Courts don't care how old one is.

Yes she reached 98 by that time.

The clerk asked me to wait and she left the room. I suspected she went to talk to the Judge. When she came back, she said with a very determined voice, “The Judge will see you now.”

Finally I had my time in court for my Aunt.

The aide was suing for two things, for being fired and for missing wages. The Judge seemed angry that the first item was a lawsuit for being fired. That was discarded immediately.

Then the Judge asked her to explain her suit for missing wages. The aide really made a fool of herself. She explained how she overheard me talking to my Aunt over the phone about their pay. My aunt liked to use the speakerphone. So the aide was able to hear both sides of the conversation. She explained to the judge that I was just being cheap.

I was prepared to defend the missing wages suit to prove my case. I had a stack of banks statements three inches thick and presented this to the Judge. She never looked at it. I guess the thickness of it was enough for her, and the fact that I had it ready to show her was all she needed to see.

Needless to say, I won the case. But in a way the aide succeeded too. She accomplished what she wanted: To waste my time for so many visits to the court and to frustrate my Aunt in the process until the final outcome.

My Aunt died a few months later, but at least she knew we won so she could rest in peace.

© 2011 Glenn Stok

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Comments 12 comments

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

WOW who knew, thanks for bringing this issue, frivolous lawsuits by elder care aide to light. There is much to consider if one has a loved one under such care. :) katie

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

katiem2, Yes indeed. I only hope I can alert other people to the potential for problems before they get bitten by it too. Thanks for checking out my hubs.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Voted up. Keep writing about elder care issues! Until people have experience with an elderly parent's so-called care in this type situation they cannot understand how big the issues can become, but by writing about them, keeping the topic highlighted and discussions going, perhaps we can make a dent in the problem. I'm hoping to write more, but am in the middle of the throes of a bad situation. Sorting it out with an elder care attorney has been helpful but related concerns are growing. Maybe when it's all settled I will still have it in me to write about it. It all reminds me of the degradation of our society's thinking/behavior/character.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

If you don't mind I would like to link this hub to my Elder Care Attorney hub.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

RTalloni, I do plan another Hub on this. There is so much more to talk about. Her will is still not approved by the court for probate. Her attorney could have done better.

I see you wrote a lot of hubs and I plan to check them out in the next day or two. I added a reminder for myself :) Thank you for the vote up and for following me.

Feel free to add a link to my hub from yours and thanks for asking. I appreciate it. I'll look for that one and do the same if it fits the subject.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

This kind of behavior is rampant. A friend of mine is afraid of his care taker. He don't take him to doctors, part of what he's paid to do. The care taker makes him take dial-a-ride. They are county employees and don't seem to be accountable to anyone. His family work during the day when all this is occurring. It's terrible elderly people are abused this way

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

tirelesstraveler ~ thanks for sharing your story about your friend. Yes it is sad that the elderly are not treated better. That's why I had to keep such a close eye on my Aunt and with how her aides were treating her. Thanks for stopping by.

stillwaters707 profile image

stillwaters707 3 years ago from Texas

Hi, Glenn. I'm sorry you had to experience such a stressful experience. But, I'm glad you shared this for all of the caretakers out there, including myself. I encourage you to also share my hubs with your readers, or with anyone you see fit, like other caretakers. Thankfully, she passed in peace. Of course, I'm sorry she passed and experienced such ridiculousness. Take care!

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

Glenn, I felt my blood pressure rising with each paragraph of this hub. It is hard enough to take care of an elderly relative without all the added complications you have experienced. I too have written about the difficulty and legal implications of caring for elderly relatives so this hub drew me in. I cried when I read of how the aids took advantage of your aunt. It is a sad reality that when we need help the most, we are the most vulnerable. I realize we are talking about people and human nature but I don't guess I will ever understand why someone would choose a "helping" profession and then abuse the very people who need them.

When we entered this phase of life with my parents, we were advised to hire an Elder Law attorney. It was the best thing we could have done. We were able to avoid many of the pitfalls. Now though, my parents are in an assisted living facility and we are at the mercy of a constantly changing staff which means we will have to remain vigilant.

You have written an important hub here sir and I applaud you both for writing about it and for taking care of your aunt. It's a hard job but an important one that not everyone can do. Voted up and across the board. I'll be sharing it too.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Thanks again, Linda, for checking out another hub of mine and for your extremely heartfelt comment. I'll have to look for that hub of yours where you write about a similar experience with legal implications of eldercare. Thanks for the vote up and sharing.

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

That care giver was rediculous. I hope there are not plenty of them in this world. Thanks for sharing your and your aunts experiences with us. Have a nice week!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Thelma Alberts - There's no way to know how many elder care aids are only interested in their own gain. But this is why it's important to check them out carefully before hiring them. And also important to keep an eye on them afterwards.

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