BILLINGS – A woman claims in a lawsuit filed in a Billings federal court that she was fired from her position as a registered nurse at Awe KualaWaache Care on the Crow Indian Reservation after she reported a sexual assault.
The complaint filed by Tammy Wilhite in U.S. District Court in Billings alleges the Center violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, which prohibits retaliation against an employee for providing truthful information about a federal offense to law enforcement.
According to the complaint, Wilhite was employed at the center when a patient told her he had been molested while being transported to the center.
The patient also disclosed the incident to staff working in occupational therapy at the center, according to the complaint.
Wilhite claims she reported the incident to her immediate supervisor and believes other mandatory reporters also notified supervisors.
When it appeared no one was taking action on the molestation report, Wilhite reported the incident to law enforcement with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
DPHHS reportedly sent investigators to the Center to look into the report in March of 2018.
The DPHHS investigation substantiated the patient’s claims, according to the complaint, and the results of the investigation were provided to the Center.
Wilhite alleges that after her employer received the results of the investigation, her employer contacted Wilhite’s landlord and informed them she was no longer employed at the Center.
Wilhite’s employer allegedly directed the landlord to lock Wilhite out of her apartment. The landlord reportedly obliged.
According to the complaint, Wilhite returned to work and was not informed of her employment for nearly a week.
Wilhite said she was summoned to a Board of the Directors of the Care Center meeting, where four board members notified her of her termination.
The reason given for Wilhite’s firing, according to her complaint, was that she had a gun in her car.
Wilhite claims the board members did not find a gun in her car and argues that even if they had, there is no policy prohibiting an employee from having a gun in his or her car.
Wilhite claims the real reason she was fired is because she reported the molestation complaint to law enforcement.
The defendants have yet to respond to the complaint.
The center did not immediately return a call for comment.
Reporting by Aja Goare for MTN News