An East St. Louis woman says she was fired from her job at a nursing home after persistently reporting a fellow employee's abuse of patients.

Ronda Washington filed a lawsuit Aug. 28 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Washington claims she observed an employee of the center physically abusing a resident in early February 2009.

Believing the abuse was a violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, Washington reported the incident to her immediate supervisor on the same day she witnessed the alleged abuse, according to the complaint.

Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was obligated to report the abuse to the appropriate governmental authority, but failed to do so, the complaint says.

Instead, Washington began to be the victim of harassment in retaliation for her abuse report, the suit states.

"Fearing that the Defendant's failure to report the physical abuse would result in the employee abusing other individuals, Plaintiff made repeated inquiries and requests of her supervisor and Administrator to report the physical abuse as required by law," the complaint says.

On Aug. 21, Washington again talked to the Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center's administrator and the center's obligation to report the abuse, she claims.

Immediately after raising the issue, Washington was terminated, according to the complaint.

"The termination of Plaintiff's employment by Defendant, Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Inc., was in retaliation for Plaintiff reporting illegal activities to the Defendant's supervisor and Administrator, and was contrary to the public policy of the State of Illinois," the suit states.

Because of her termination, Washington lost wages and benefits and has suffered embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and loss of reputation, the complaint says.

Washington is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus punitive damages and costs.

Mark S. Schuver of Mathis, Marifian, Richter and Grandy in Belleville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-456.

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