California Health and Safety Code 1278.5 provides anti-retaliation protection whistleblowers in healthcare. Subdivision (a) of that section explains that it’s the public policy of the State of California to encourage patients, nurses, members of medical staff, and other health care workers to notify government entities of suspected unsafe patient care and conditions. The Legislature encourages this reporting in order to protect patients and in order to assist those accreditation and government entities charged with ensuring that health care is safe.
The whistleblower anti-retaliation protections apply primarily to issues relating to the care, services, and conditions of a facility (i.e. clinics and hospitals). The law further states that no health facility shall discriminate or retaliate, in any manner, against any patient, employee, member of the medical staff, or any other health care worker of the health facility because that person has engaged in any protected act, including complaining to the facility regarding the quality of care, services or conditions at the facility. Health & Safety Code sec. 1278.5(b)(1).
An employee who has been discriminated against in employment pursuant to this section shall be entitled to reinstatement, reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer and the legal costs associated with pursuing the case.
In Shaw v Superior Court of County of Los Angeles, the Appellate Court held that a claimant who brings a discrimination retaliation claim under sections 1278 is entitled to a jury trial as a matter of law. Some of these cases result in significant settlements and award, especially where the employee – whistleblower has been employed with the facility for many years, an where the underlying violations of which that employee complained of are especially serious.
If you believe you have been or you might be subjected to retaliation or wrongful termination by a hospital or a clinic for complaining about the quality of care or health and safety issues of the patient at the facility, or otherwise blowing a whistle on the healthcare facility where you are or have been employed, feel free to contact us to discuss the situation and your legal options.