Former Recreational Therapists Sue Hazard ARH

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) - Two former recreational therapist at an eastern Kentucky psychiatric center have sued their former employer, claiming they were fired for taking sodas and snacks to striking nurses at a nearby hospital.

Cynthia Boggs and Amber Tye sued Hazard ARH Psychiatric Center last week in Perry Circuit Court.

The two said they took ice, sodas and snacks to friends walking the picket line outside Appalachian Regional Healthcare on Oct. 1, the first day nurses went on strike.

Boggs and Tye said that when returned to work, the director of risk management and the center's administrator told them they had violated a directive prohibiting them from fraternizing with striking union members. The two therapists say they were then told they were being suspended because they did not clock out when they left for the break.

Candy Elkins, spokeswoman for ARH, said the company denies the allegations in the lawsuit.

More than 600 ARH nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia began striking Oct. 1 when their contract expired. The nurses say they want better retirement and medical benefits and improved staffing levels.

ARH broke off negotiations with the nurses a few days before the contract expired.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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