Now this reform bill, which is actually named “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” does not outright prohibit bullies in the healthcare workplace. Although it would be a good idea to catch the U.S. up with the rest of the civilized world, we’re still a ways off from making it illegal to purposefully ruin another person’s career.
But, this law can be a another tool that you can learn to use in your fight against an unfair supervisor.
Specifically, the Bill gives whistleblower AND retaliation protection to health care workers! The “PPACA” also puts some muscle on the False Claims Act. If an employee reports anything, even to his or her own employer, that the employee “reasonably believes” is a violation of the Title I section of the Bill, then that employee is a whistleblower — and thus part of a protected class.
So you are probably wondering what “Title I” prohibits… and what things you must report to be protected by this new law. Title I prohibits denying coverage based upon preexisting conditions, it includes policy and financial reporting requirements; and it prohibits treating patients differently based on whether they received health insurance subsidies. Put another way, the bill will protect employees who point out a broad range of infractions their employer is engaging in.
Similar to Title VII, this new bill’s whistleblower rules include a 180 day deadline, and a requirement to file first with an administrative agency (in this case OSHA). And also like Title VII claims there is an option to litigate against your employer before an administrative law judge, or, you can choose to remove the claim to federal court (like getting a “right to sue letter” from the EEOC) and litigate there in front of a jury. This new whistle blower protection allows for reinstatement to your job if you’ve been fired, the back pay you should have received, and attorney’s fees.
What you have to prove is that your whistleblowing was merely “a contributing factor” in your employer’s decision to fire you, demote you, transfer you, give you a bad appraisal or review, deny you a raise, etc.
So what is “a contributing factor,” you ask? It is “any factor which in any way affects the outcome of the decision” to deprive you of your job, a good appraisal , a raise, etc. So all you have to show is that your whistleblowing affected a bosses decision to give you a bad review, for instance — your whistle blowing does NOT have to be the only reason, or even the main reason, that your boss gave you a bad review.
After you prove that, then your employer has a chance to get off by proving “by clear and convincing evidence” that it would have done the exact same thing to you even if you had not blown the whistle. Unless you got caught stealing, this is pretty hard for an employer to prove.
Our next post, later this week, will further explain the new bill’s protections for employees at nursing homes, so be sure to check back.
And what do you think of this aspect of the new bill? If you are a nurse or in health care, have you ever seen patients treated differently because of what insurance they have or don’t have? Have you nurses out there been retaliated against in the past for pointing out policy violations where you work?
Healt Care Reform Bill Sections Protecting Whistleblowers