Saying She Had “Outlived Her Effectiveness,” The Corvallis Clinic Fired Long-Term Registered Nurse Geraldine Goff Because of Her Age

Registered nurse Geraldine Goff has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing The Corvallis Clinic of age discrimination when it fired her in February, 2015. The federal complaint is available here.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of an investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI), which found “substantial evidence” that The Corvallis Clinic engaged in illegal age discrimination when it fired Goff. The BOLI determination is available here. Goff was then 76 and had worked for The Corvallis Clinic for twenty years.

Goff had received good to excellent reviews throughout her tenure, including one in April, 2014, which rated her as meeting and exceeding expectations in nearly every category. But in November, 2014, then-Medical Director of The Corvallis Clinic Dr. Dennis Regan told a colleague, Dr. Charles Parker, that certain staff in the Immediate Care Center needed to retire and had “outlived their effectiveness.” He singled out Geraldine Goff. Dr. Regan went to nurse managers and complained about Goff.

Within a couple of weeks of that conversation, the Clinic told Goff and three others in the Immediate Care Center that they would have a “clinical skills evaluation.” They found Goff “unsatisfactory” in more than half the areas of evaluation – even though they had rated her clinical skills as “outstanding” in her annual evaluation only months before. They prepared to fire her. When Dr. Parker learned of the plans, he said they should give her a chance to address any problems, and at least should not fire her before Christmas. Managers agreed to wait and told Goff they would conduct another evaluation in January.

Even though Goff scored much better in the second evaluation, The Corvallis Clinic still fired her in February, 2015. They accused her of “unsafe nursing practices,” but her evaluation did not identify anything it called an “unsafe nursing practice,” and no report was made to the Oregon Board of Nursing. BOLI found that “based on the totality of the circumstances, a discriminatory motive for the employment termination can be inferred.” Goff is represented by Jennifer Middleton and Meredith Holley of Johnson, Johnson & Schaller, PC.