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Employer can require certification; discharged nurse cannot prove a pretext

Jeanette Godfrey sued the Henry Ford Health Systems, claiming age and racial discrimination.  Godfre is an R.N. who worked in behavioral health for many years, prior to Medicare adopting regulations that required behavioral health specialists to be certified.  Godfrey never became certified, and eventually her supervisors required her to take an unpaid one year leave of absence:  if she obtained certification during that period she could assume her old duties.   Godfrey argued that within the Medicare regulatory scheme, she could perform her duties with supervision by a specialist, and that Henry Ford allowed new hires three years in which to secure certification.

The Court of Appeals  upheld the lower court's grant of summary disposition against Godfrey.  It concluded that she had not proved she was qualified for her behavioral health position, since the employer's "legitimate expectation" was that it be able to bill Medicare for her work.  Further, she had not provided any proof of the employer treating other employees differently under similar circumstances.  As a result, she could not sustain her claim that the employer's motivation was discriminatory and that the qualification/certification issue was merely a pretext for the change in her employment status.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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