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Legal Protections for Health Care Whistleblowers

Many employees in the health care field are raising concerns about their employers’ failure to adhere to national and local recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state or local agencies. But what legal protections do these employees have against retaliation for speaking out?

OSHA Whistleblower Protections

Unfortunately, there is no federal law that specifically protects health care workers who report patient safety issues, or other workers who report concerns about medical issues in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, Section 11(c), does have an anti-retaliation provision — about which the U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a press release[1] — that, in theory, protects employees who report or protest workplace safety issues.[2] However, there are several fundamental problems with this statute.

First, Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints must be filed with the DOL within 30 days after the discriminatory or retaliatory event.[3] This is far shorter than the statute of limitations for most other discrimination and retaliation statutes, which generally range between 90 days to a year, or even longer. Employees are unlikely to realize immediately that their termination was retaliatory, let alone even know of this short limitations period.

To Read Full Article : “Policy Exceptions May Protect Health Care Whistleblowers”