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Understanding Employee Retaliation Protections in Healthcare

healthcare retaliationWhat does retaliation mean in healthcare?

Retaliation is a serious problem in the healthcare industry. This is especially amplified when considering whistleblower retaliation.

A whistleblower is an individual who provides the government with information and evidence of fraud and abuse within the system. While this is ideal for the system overall, the whistleblower may be put in a negative position. Though they are legally protected by healthcare laws, whistleblower retaliation can still occur.

Likewise, healthcare professionals making other complaints, especially against authority, may experience backlash.

By definition, retaliation is an act of punishing an individual for their behavior such as complaints or reports. While it may be overwhelming to do so, it is critical to consult a lawyer. A California healthcare attorney will help hold the Defendant accountable. Pursuing legal action will also protect others from being future victims of retaliation.

What is an example of retaliation from employers?

There are many ways an employer can exhibit an unfair advantage over the employee that may include:

  • Job termination
  • Demotion
  • Harassment
  • Reassignment to less desirable duties
  • Increased workloads
  • Denied promotion or other growth opportunities
  • Loss of privileges
  • Negative performance reviews

In summary, retaliation is an unfair action performed by a person of power. If you believe you are being retaliated against, it is important that you seek help. While the human resources department and other staff members can try to help, it may require more serious action. A healthcare lawyer will work with you to prove the Defendant’s actions were those of retaliation.

healthcare lawyer

Enter Health & Safety Code Section 1278.5 and Business & Professions Code Section 2056

Fortunately, there are legal safeguards to protect individuals from retaliation. Enter the Health & Safety Code Section 1278.5 and Business & Professions Code Section 2056. These laws are legally enforceable and can result in serious fines and other penalties if an individual is found guilty of retaliation.

The Health & Safety Code Section 1278.5 provides whistleblower protection. In California, whistleblowers who experienced “discriminatory treatment,” can sue medical practices and their staff for monetary damages.

The Business & Professions Code Section 2056 operates slightly differently. It seeks to protect healthcare professionals who are retaliated against for their patient advocacy.

This legislation arose from Wickline v. State of California 192 Cal. App. 3d 1630.

Retaliation lawsuits are not confined to the legislation above. Various state and federal laws may be applicable. Your healthcare attorney will determine the best course of action depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction in which you reside.

What To Expect in a Retaliation Lawsuit

Victims should file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with California’s labor commissioner’s office. Before filing a complaint it may be best to consult a healthcare attorney for guidance. They will be able to advise on the complaint filing and all other legal needs throughout the duration of the case.

The federal and state agencies will likely conduct their own investigations and may recommend mediation, arbitration, or other forms of resolution.

In many cases, litigation is a viable option if a settlement is not agreed upon. Litigation will involve a formal trial during which both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments.

Each case will be treated individually and may be dependent on past precedent. The court will take into account the severity of the retaliation and subsequent damages the Plaintiff endured.

It is best to work with a healthcare lawyer who can gather evidence on your behalf and correspond with the opposing parties. Often, hospitals and medical practices will try to push settlement to avoid fees and reputational damages which is why it is important to have a legal advocate.

Outcomes of a Retaliation Case

Each retaliation case is different, and, thus, may entail different outcomes. In most cases, an individual will be seeking monetary compensation for the claims. If the Defendant is found guilty, you may be able to receive compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering (both physical and emotional such as reputation damage)
  • Attorney fees
  • In some cases, punitive damages

The Defendant may also be at risk for job termination and other similar repercussions.

Speak to a California Healthcare Law Firm Today

Healthcare retaliation is a very serious issue and should be pursued as so. Whistleblowers and other vulnerable individuals should not feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or isolated in their place of work. Healthcare professionals should be aware of their legal rights allowing them to speak freely without fear of punishment.

If you are a victim of whistleblower retaliation or any other form of retaliation, you should consider filing a lawsuit. Our team of California healthcare law group has three decades of experience handling employment disputes. We pride ourselves on our compassionate and fierce approach to resolving retaliation and other litigation issues. We will do everything in our power to help you receive justice and prevent your colleagues from future retaliation.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your legal options, please contact us at (310) 444-5244.