Employees are bound to see all sorts of behavior in their workplaces. Some of it is good, and some of it may be bad. When employees see illegal behavior, those employees have the right to report that behavior without fear that they are going to lose their jobs. In other words, when employees act as whistleblowers, they cannot be fired in retaliation of the whistleblowing.
However, many employees are still fired for reporting inappropriate or illegal behavior. In a recent California case, a doctor sued his former employer — a state run hospital facility for severely disabled adults — after he was fired. According to reports, the doctor worked for the facility from October 1991 until July 2001. During that time, the doctor says that he reported, photographed and documented abuse that patients were subjected to. As a result of his work, the California legislature passed legislation that requires care facilities — like the one where he worked — to report serious injuries and death to authorities.
In 2001, the doctor was fired. The facility claimed that it was for refusing to perform CPR on a dying patient. The doctor maintained that the CPR would have done more harm than good.
After a 12 year legal battle, the doctor has finally won his wrongful termination suit. As a result, his legal fees must be paid by the state. The doctor will also receive $1.35 million in compensation.
Compensation is often available for California employees who have been wrongfully terminated. Employee laws allow employers to fire an employee for virtually any reason. However, if the termination was based on unlawful discrimination, or in retaliation then the employee has often suffered a wrongful termination. Employees should understand that they do not have to live with this type of treatment and employers — like the facility in this case — can be punished.
Source: Argus-Courier, “Petaluma doctor gets $1.35M in whistleblower lawsuit,” Emily Charrier, Nov. 21, 2013