Nurses sue St. Thomas over strip searches for drug tests - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Nurses sue St. Thomas over strip searches for drug tests


Four nurses say they were mortified after being forced to remove all their clothing in front of supervisors and co-workers just to submit a simple drug test. Now, each nurse is suing St. Thomas for at least $75,000.

Their attorney said it would hardly make up for everything they suffered that day at St. Thomas Hickman Hospital.

"They wouldn't wish this on their worst enemy. They are embarrassed. They are humiliated," said attorney J. Miranda Belote.

When the nurses arrived for their shifts, a supervisor told them drug counts revealed missing medicine. So the supervisors demanded a urine sample, then forced the nurses, one-by-one, to strip.

"They are just wonderful people. They didn't deserve to be put through this type of invasion of their personal being," Belote said.

In one account, a nurse said one supervisor stood "where she was able to view her entire backside."

The other supervisor "stood directly in front" of her.

Another nurse questioned it, saying, "You must be joking."

The supervisor said, "No."

A second nurse fought back, saying "Why do I have to remove my clothing for a urine screen?"

The supervisor responded, "That's the way it's supposed to be done."

She then demanded the nurse even remove her flip-flops, saying, "Take them off. Everything has to go."

The nurse responded, "This is humiliating, probably illegal and just plain wrong."

"They felt like they didn't have an option to say no. They were told that if they did not consent to the drug screen that they would be terminated," Belote said.

The supervisors also marked "reasonable suspicion" on the lab work.

The nurses' attorney said Friday that testing for that reason, without proper notification, breaks state law and further violates the nurses' rights.

"They just want to make sure that nothing like this ever happens to any other employee at the hospital or any other St. Thomas Hospital again," Belote said.

All the drug tests eventually came back negative.

Two of the nurses no longer work for the hospital system, and they all also filed a complaint with the state.

Channel 4 News approached St. Thomas for comment, which was declined.

We sent a second request, asking to see the hospital system's written policy for employee drug screens. So far, we have not heard back.

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