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Whistle-blowing nurse sues hospital for wrongful termination

Yet another Kaiser Permanente Hospital has come under fire for its employment practices. As we reported in a recent blog post, the health care consortium was named as a defendant in 46 employment-related lawsuits in 2012. Now, a nurse has made a claim of wrongful termination against a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Francisco, alleging she was fired after she exposed the hospital's unsafe patient care practices.

The nurse, who had been employed as an assistant nurse manager at the hospital since 2005, said she was discharged in 2010 for reporting violations of patient care regulations and other incidents impacting patient safety. The alleged violations included improper patient transfers, errors in dispensing medication and over-admitting patients in violation of a nurse-to-patient ratio requirement. The nurse claims that after she reported her concerns, the hospital retaliated against her.

After issuing a series of poor performance reviews and disciplinary warnings, the hospital eventually fired the nurse in late 2010 for what it claimed was her failure to meet the expectations of a performance improvement plan. The nurse claims the discharge was unlawful retaliation in violation of public policy. She is seeking compensation for her lost wages and consequential damages as well as punitive damages against the hospital.

California law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for raising safety concerns or otherwise blowing the whistle against illegal activity. Unlawful retaliation may take many forms, including discharge, job reassignment, negative performances reviews, and making the work environment so intolerable that the employee has no choice but to quit. If an employee has experienced any form of retaliation after complaining about unsafe or illegal conduct, an experienced wrongful termination attorney can help the employee pursue a retaliation claim.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Kaiser Safety Worries Led to Firing, Nurse Says," Philip A. Janquart, Jan. 4, 2013

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