A former registered nurse from Alberta has filed a $3.7 million lawsuit alleging Alberta Health Services (AHS) wrongfully dismissed her because of her views on the COVID pandemic.
Debra Carritt has worked in healthcare since 1993 as an emergency medical technician and paramedic before becoming a registered nurse and role unit manager in 2012.
"Mrs. Carritt has a passion for health care and enjoyed her place of work. She endeavoured to be a valuable, ethical, honest, dedicated and contributing member of the AHS team," reads a 44-page claim filed in Calgary by herself.
According to the court documents, Carritt "began to identify concerns she had with AHS' management of the pandemic," including "open discrimination, judgment and hostility" toward unvaccinated patients and staff.
The claimant said she observed "open harassment and discrimination" of unvaccinated Albertans and said AHS "coerced" their staff into getting the COVID jab.
On September 6, 2021, the claimant penned a letter outlining her concerns to then-AHS CEO Dr. Verna Yiu, former premier Jason Kenney, former health minister Tyler Shandro, and all UCP representatives. However, she has yet to receive a response to that letter.
"The AHS supports fear-mongering by media agencies and the government by recording and sharing daily virus infection statistics despite similar statistics not being kept and shared for any previous infectious disease outbreaks," reads the claim.
"AHS [failed] to acknowledge or comprehend the adverse health effects members of the public would experience through continued 'fight or flight' reactions experienced as a result of those individuals living with a continued heightened sense of fear through conditions AHS created," it continues.
The suit alleges Carritt's concerns were dismissed despite raising the matter with her supervisor, management and human resources.
She penned another letter on September 12, 2021, outlining her fears about a task force on why AHS employees reluctantly received the COVID jab. Again, no response.
On September 22, 2021, Carritt spoke with independent media about her experiences after "[exhausting] all of the formal grievances and reporting mechanisms" available.
On December 7, 2021, AHS terminated her employment, citing the media interview violated AHS guidelines on not speaking about confidential information. However, the former registered nurse said she talked about her opinions and not on behalf of AHS.
"Mrs. Carritt expressly denies that her representations and conduct during the interview violated the [social media and e-professionalism guidelines] as alleged or at all," reads the claim.
According to the College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, they sent Carritt a disciplinary note on January 4, 2022, stating she "failed to demonstrate adequate judgment and a professional presence" during the interview.
"[She] made statements regarding the COVID pandemic, COVID vaccination and related issues that did not align with one or more employer policies and were potentially misleading, after identifying herself as a registered nurse and that she worked as a unit manager working for a major health authority."
Carritt agreed to "complete a reflective essay and pay a fine" for the alleged transgression.
"In the alternative, Mrs. Carritt states, and the fact is, that her representations and conduct during the interview met and exemplified the standards in those guidelines by, among other things, complying with her 'professional and ethical obligations to protect the public and maintain conduct that reflects trustworthiness,'" reads the claim.
Carritt is seeking $3 million in punitive damages for the alleged negligence, $250,000 in punitive damages concerning the alleged wrongful dismissal, and $420,580.92 in lost pay.
AHS, Carritt and her lawyer refused to comment on the matter, as none of the allegations have been tested in court since the time of writing.