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Radiology Tech Fired For Using Fitness Center

June 7, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Akron General Health System of Akron, Ohio, is fighting hard to avoid paying a little more than $100,000 to a radiology technician it fired for using the company’s fitness center on her lunch break after the center was closed for the day.

Denise DiFrangia, 40, of Akron was a CT and X-ray technician on the midnight shift at the Akron General Wellness Center in Stow, just north of Akron.

She was fired on July 31, 2009, for using the LifeStyles Fitness Center during break time between 3 and 4 a.m., when the center had closed for the day. She said she never used the workout machines or swimming areas. Instead, she told the Akron Beacon Journal:

We walked the track and shot baskets, and then I got fired.

The company said she was not at her post and thus put herself, other staff members, or emergency department patients at risk.

An arbitrator found that there was no evidence she was unavailable to work during breaks and that she could have been reached by cell phone. On August 20, 2010, the arbitrator awarded DiFrangia $27,472 for back pay, $20,500 for lost health benefits, and $55,457.20 for two additional years of pay.

Akron General has refused to hand over the money. Last month, it lost a court battle over whether the arbitrator had the authority to make a binding award. The company’s employee handbook described a process for challenging a termination through arbitration that would be “final and binding on both parties.”

Akron General still has pending in the same venue, Summit County Common Pleas Court, a request to vacate the award.

The company has declined to comment about the case.

After winning last month’s ruling, DiFrangia said:

I’m thrilled. I’m just a common Joe, a working stiff, and I did what I can do. But they have endless resources, and they can continue the battle with endless funds.

DiFrangia said she still works in radiology with another company, but she declined to disclose the location or name of the company.

Akron General has almost certainly spent more in legal fees related to this case than the $103,429.20 that the arbitrator ordered it to pay DiFrangia—probably lots more. Perhaps it’s the principle of the thing. Or maybe the company is just really strict about enforcing fitness center hours.

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