ITHACA, N.Y. — A nurse terminated by Cayuga Medical Center has succeeded securing unemployment benefits after a judge found her actions did not “rise to the level of misconduct” regarding a blood transfusion.

This comes as the National Labor Relations Board is investigating why two nurses were terminated at Cayuga Medical Center. The hospital claims it fired two Intensive Care Unit nurses — Anne Marshall and Lauren Lamb — for violating blood transfusion policy. However, the nurses say they were following common practice at the hospital and instead they were targeted for their union involvement.

An administrative law judge on the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board sided with Marshall that she followed established and accepted practice at the hospital.

A National Labor Relations Board hearing regarding the case began in January, was adjourned and will resume again Feb. 27.

Read more: NLRB case with Cayuga Medical Center adjourned until Jan. 30; breaking down the case so far

Administrative Law Judge Michael Affleck found that Marshall’s actions did not rise to the level of misconduct under the meaning of employment insurance law.

“The credible evidence establishes that the claimant was fired for a violation of the blood transfusion policy. While on September 11, 2016, the claimant did not follow the written protocol, she followed the established, known and accepted practice of blood transfusions. The claimant’s behavior on September 11, 2016 was within the bounds of medical practice for this employer,” Affleck wrote.

A hearing was held and testimony was taken. There were appearance on behalf of Marshall and on behalf of Cayuga Medical Center, but at the adjourned hearing, the hospital declined to participate further, the decision said.

The decision was filed and mailed Wednesday.

Marshall was terminated Oct. 6 and said she applied for unemployment benefits shortly after.

The Department of Labor initially disqualified Marshall from receiving benefits effective Oct. 7 on the basis that Marshall lost employment through misconduct, the decision states.

However, the judge found that Marshall’s actions did not rise to the level of misconduct and the determination was overruled.

Marshall said the judge’s decision regarding unemployment is important for the ongoing hearing because they both were looking at the issue of policy versus practice.

“It was something that was commonly done and yes it was wrong, I have never said it wasn’t wrong, but what I’m saying is there are multiple, multiple people telling administrators they’ve done the same thing. People are still doing it wrong, but nobody else was fired,” Marshall said.

Cayuga Medical Center does not agree with the judge’s decision.

“We were unable to participate in the hearing on the date scheduled,” John Turner, vice president for public relations said. “We do not agree with this decision.”

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.