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Protection For Hospital Whistleblowers

People are usually shocked to learn how little protection there is for whistleblowers in the workplace.  There is protection, however, for whistleblowers working for hospitals, mental health facilities and any other treatment facilities in Texas.  Who is protected.  Employees and persons who are not employees (such as physicians with privileges, though it is not limited to them) are covered.  This would include physicians, nurses, technicians, cooks, janitors, volunteers and anyone else who performs work in a hospital or treatment center. What is protected.  Employees and non-employees are protected from termination, discipline or discrimination resulting from their report of a violation of law, which includes a violation of the Texas Health & Safety Code or a rule adopted by the Texas Board of Mental Health and Retardation, the Texas Board of Health or Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.  The report must be made to one's supervisor, an administrator of the facility, a state regulatory agency or a law enforcement agency.  One need not prove that the conduct about which they complained was illegal, so long as one believes in good faith that the conduct is illegal. Proving retaliation.  If the termination or discrimination by the hospital or treatment center occurs within 60 days of the whistleblower report, the law presumes such action was retaliatory and unlawful, unless that presumption is rebutted by the hospital or treatment center.  Even if the termination or discrimination happens more than 60 days after the whistleblower report, the individual can still prove a case.  Proof usually centers on showing the reason alleged by the hospital for the termination or adverse action is not credible. Remedies.  A plaintiff who prevails in a whistleblower lawsuit against a hospital or treatment center can recover his actual damages, which could include lost wages and benefits in the past and future and damages for mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, inconvenience and other monetary and non-monetary damages in the past and which, in reasonably probability, can be expected to incur in the future.  A  plaintiff can also recover punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees, interest and can request reinstatement. This law protects not only individual whistleblowers but the public as well because it encourages persons to report unlawful conduct rules violations that could adversely affect the treatment a patient receives at a hospital, mental health facility or treatment center.  I've enjoyed representing the physicians and employees who have asserted claims under this law because I feel we are serving a greater good that goes beyond just the best interests of our client.  GSF

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