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Wrongful termination for refusing to hide patient mistreatment?

It is unfortunate, but true, to say that employees across the state of California are losing their jobs every day. In many of these cases, the employers have every right to terminate these employment contracts. However, employers must be careful and ensure that they are firing an employee or relieving them of their duties for legal reasons. If the reasons are illegal, then that termination of employment could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

There are numerous reasons for firing an employee that are considered illegal and, therefore, would result in a wrongful discharge claim. Some of these include firing for a reason that violates anti-discrimination laws, firing that manifests as sexual harassment, firing that is a violation of verbal or written contracts and, finally, firing in violation of labor laws or as a form of retaliation.

A man in California has recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer claiming the latter two reasons. He claims that the loss of his job was not only a retaliatory discharge, but also a violation of California labor law.

The man had worked for a company known as Kaiser Foundation Health Plan for almost 30 years. His most recent position was as a manager that was in charge of ensuring patient safety and quality care. In September of 2012, the man visited one of the company's facilities for a routine outpatient procedure. Something went wrong during the surgery and the man nearly died. Thankfully, he survived, but, as a result, remained in the treatment of the facility for months following his procedure. During this time he took note of numerous existing threats to patient safety.

In June of 2013, after the man had returned to work, he met with the SVP of quality and risk management to voice the concerns he had noted while he was in the company's care. He also reported the concerns in writing. It was at that point he felt that other employees began retaliating against him. He was also forbidden from discussing the concerns at work. On Oct. 30, 2013, the man was fired because his position was allegedly eliminated. The man believes that the termination of his employment was a form of retaliation against him for his refusal to cover up the company's unsafe treatment of their patients.

Employees that lose their jobs are often disgruntled at the situation and may feel that it was the wrong decision on the part of the employer. Nonetheless, it is important to note that not every discharge is wrongful. It is important to meet with an attorney to understand whether a discharge was wrongful and whether an employee has a cause of action to recover damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Nearly Killed, then Fired, Kaiser Manager Says," Jane Mundy, Feb. 10, 2014

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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