Health authority sues Brandon psychiatric nurse over allegedly defamatory social media posts

A Brandon, Man., woman who was a psychiatric nurse is being sued by her former employer over posts on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram calling fellow employees “idiots” and accusing the health authority of killing its patients. 

The case comes at a time when legal experts say the number of lawsuits filed over social media posts is growing rapidly.

In its lawsuit filed April 12, the Prairie Mountain Health authority is seeking a court injunction to prohibit the nurse from publishing defamatory statements about her former employer and make her remove existing posts.

Ten employees of the western Manitoba regional health authority are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They allege the nurse made false, malicious and defamatory social media posts about them, as well as the employer.

The psychiatric nurse’s Manitoba registration to practise was suspended on Jan. 12. The regulatory college’s website shows she then voluntarily surrendered her registration, effective Jan. 17.

The reason for the suspension is not stated on the Brandon woman’s listing on the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba website. The college’s registrar, Laura Panteluk, said she cannot talk about a specific case.

CBC News is not naming the people in the lawsuit due to allegations in it about mental health. The defendant has not filed a statement of defence and the allegations have not been proven in court.

Staff called ‘lazy, incompetent’: lawsuit

The psychiatric nurse worked at the Brandon Regional Health Centre, according to the statement of claim filed in Court of Queen’s Bench at Winnipeg.

The lawsuit refers to the content of four videos the defendant posted on her social media accounts. 

In January, she posted a video on her TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram accounts that refers to some of the plaintiffs as “idiots, horrible nurses” who do not care about patients, the claim says. 

It alleges the nurse used defamatory words to say some of the other employees were “lazy, incompetent, unintelligent, and do not care about the [Brandon Regional Health Centre] patients.”

The claim alleges that in the video, the nurse said she was bullied at work and that a manager — who is one of the plaintiffs — questioned her mental health in a disciplinary meeting, causing her to go on sick leave.

The claim also alleges that in another video the nurse posted, she said Brandon health centre staff “were making fun of homeless people,” and that the health centre “protects abusers” and “kills its patients.”

The court document alleges the nurse said in a video that she intended to determine the identities of staff members working on a particular day, and then publish their names in a video on her TikTok account in an attempt to cause them to lose their jobs.

“As a result of the publication of the defamatory words, the plaintiffs have been subjected to ridicule, alienation, and contempt and have suffered damages to their reputation,” both personally and professionally, the claim alleges.

It says they’ve suffered “embarrassment, humiliation, fear, and anxiety.”

The nurse has refused to remove two of the videos from her social media accounts, the claim says, further aggravating the damage to the plaintiffs. 

Attempts by CBC to contact the defendant were not successful.

Prairie Mountain Health communications co-ordinator Blaine Kraushaar said the health authority has no comment on the case.

Social media suits becoming more common: lawyer

Toronto lawyer Howard Winkler, who specializes in defamation law, says the number of lawsuits about social media posts has grown “exponentially.”

“It’s becoming more and more common as people are becoming more comfortable with their use of social media,” said Winkler, who is not involved with the Manitoba case.

Toronto lawyer Howard Winkler says the number of lawsuits related to social media posts has increased ‘exponentially.’ (Submitted by Howard Winkler)

The unrestrained expressions of opinions and anger found on social media can be very harmful, he said.

But social media users should be aware that ordinary laws of defamation apply to those kinds of posts, said Winkler, meaning they can face financial damages in court.

“So people have to be very careful when they’re posting these kinds of messages.”

A person’s social media footprint can also affect future employment prospects, regardless of whether or not their criticisms were valid.

“If someone’s applying for a job and the employer does a social media search and they see that a person’s had an earlier dispute with an employer, that may be a red flag to an employer that there’s some risk associated with hiring that person,” Winkler said.

View original article here Source