Media reports out of Chicago say that up to 50 employees at Northwestern Hospital have been fired for reviewing the medical records of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Smollett has been indicted on 16 counts relating to his hate crime hoax.
Some of the fired employees are at a loss to explain why they got the ax.
The worker who spoke to the Sun-Times said she did not know how many workers were involved.
The day Smollett was at the hospital, his arrival and the alleged attack were all over the news, the worker said.
An employee in another department came to her desk and asked if Smollett been admitted under an alias, the worker said, adding that she didn’t ask why the information was needed because she believed it to be a professional request.
A few weeks later, the worker was called to a meeting with her boss and a representative from human resources, the worker said.
“They called it a ‘huge breach,’ and I said, ‘If that’s the case, don’t you think it’s a training issue?’” the worker said.
Late last month, she was called to another meeting and told she was being fired.
“They again said I accessed [Smollett’s] record, and I said I didn’t access his record,” the worker said. She said she had worked at Northwestern for two years and had no previous disciplinary issues.
The hospital is terrified that Smollett will lash out after being caught hoaxing a hate crime and is going to sue everyone — including the Chicago Police Department, which is conducting their own internal investigation into leaks during the course of the investigation.
Chicago police say they are conducting an internal investigation to determine the source of information leaked anonymously to media during the probe into “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s claims he was attacked.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the investigation began after Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct last month. Investigators say Smollett staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself with two men’s help and made a false police report.
Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed two men hurled slurs and looped a rope around his neck on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago.
Guglielmi says no alleged leakers have been identified so far. He says no officers or staff members with the department have been disciplined for releasing information about the case.
The police have every right to investigate the violation of procedures in the case. Pressure by the local media to get any scrap of information they could no doubt led to hospital employees being as cooperative as they could.
Reporters on the local police beat have their own sources, but it seems pretty clear that the rumors that later proved to be true were not coming from the top, but rather from detectives actually investigating the case. The brass felt it necessary to maintain the fiction of Smollett’s innocence until the last possible moment given the explosive nature of the allegations and the broken relationship between the police and the black community.
The blanket firings at the hospital were excessive. They are probably going to lose more from wrongful termination suits than any amount Smollett would collect if he could prove wrongful access to his records.
With Smollett still maintaining his innocence, his upcoming trial is going to be the biggest media circus in Chicago since the trial of the Chicago 7.