Community Health Systems is girding for a National Labor Relations Board hearing that begins Monday in Cleveland. The hospital giant is being accused of unfair labor practices at hospitals it owns across the country.
Seven of CHS' hospitals were named in the consolidated complaint, which was filed Oct. 19, 2015.
National Nurses United, a labor group that represents registered nurses at six of the hospitals, alleges that since 2012 CHS leadership prohibited employees from having union-related discussions during work time, fired nursing leaders in order to slow collective bargaining agreements, and threatened retaliation against employees engaging in union activity.
Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS fired back in a motion dated Feb. 19 denying any unfair labor practices.
In the complaint, CHS is being asked for back pay and to reinstate those who were fired.
The seven hospitals are Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio; Kentucky River Medical Center, Jackson, Ky.; Bluefield (W.Va.) Regional Medical Center in Bluefield; Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Ronceverte, W.Va.; Fallbrook (Calif.) Hospital; Barstow (Calif.) Community Hospital; and Watsonville (Calif.) Community Hospital.
Even though the hearing begins in Cleveland, hearings will also be held at locations near the hospitals where the alleged violations occurred.
That is unusual, said James Walters, a partner at Atlanta-based law firm Fisher and Phillips. But such a series of hearings were also held in a case involving McDonald's Corp. that determined the company was jointly responsible for employees at franchised restaurants.
CHS' website says it has more than 135,000 employees. In 2015, CHS reported revenue of $19.4 billion, up from $18.6 billion in 2014, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Last month, CHS announced that a spinoff of 38 small-market hospitals into a new company called Quorum Health Corp. will likely be delayed due to market conditions. The spinoff was to take place in March and will now occur before the end of June.