IT staffer fired after data theft, sues hospital

An IT staff member who was fired after data was stolen from his car is striking back with a lawsuit against the health system that canned him. While Providence Health Systems (Portland, OR) won't comment on the reasons for Steven Shields' firing, what is known is that he was fired a few months after a thief broke into his car and stole disks and tapes containing unencrypted patient information.

Providence has faced a high-profile battle to address legal challenges resulting from the breach, including a class-action suit and several months of investigation by the state attorney general. The health system ended up paying out $95,000 to settle charges resulting from the inquiry.

Now, Providence is being sued by Shields under the state's whistleblower law, which makes it illegal for a company to fire an employee solely because he or she reported a crime to law enforcement. The suit claims that Shields was fired, unlike three other employees implicated in the breach, because he reported the break-in. Shields is suing for $1 million in damages for lost wages and varied forms of emotional and physical distress.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this Computerworld piece

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