California Health and Safety Code 1278.5 provides anti-retaliation protection for healthcare whistleblowers. 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 healthcare is safe.
The whistleblower protections apply primarily to issues relating to the care, services, and conditions of a facility. The law further states that no health facility shall discriminate or retaliate, in any manner, against any patient, employee, members of the medical staff, or any other health care worker of the health facility because that person has done 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 or retaliated 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 or retaliation claim under sections 1278 is entitled to a jury trial as a matter of law.
One of the more common types of retaliation claims that we see in hospitals in Sacramento and San Francisco areas, is retaliation against nurses for complaining about improper nurse to patient staffing ratios. These types of cases are particularly compelling because of the seriousness of the complaints at issue. For more information about those types of cases, please see this page.
If you are a doctor, a nurse, or any other type of healthcare employee in the Sacramento area, and you believe you have been a victim of (whistleblower) retaliation, feel free to contact us to discuss your legal options, and the best course of action for you in your specific situation.