Reports of an employee becoming a whistleblower without suffering adverse consequences have become much more common with the enactment of state and federal laws, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act, to protect them. Occasionally, though, the facts of a given situation can create a confusing set of circumstances in which an individual fired for creating a danger to public health might be a legitimate whistleblower.
The firing of a Wisconsin paramedic for tampering with narcotic drugs kept on his ambulance might at first appear to be a clear case of local officials identifying a danger to public health and responding to it in an appropriate manner. Facts uncovered by a local media outlet raise questions as to the true motives behind the firing.
Officials accused the paramedic of replacing narcotic prescription medications with a saline solution that was eventually used to treat patients. County officials, however, admit to not having direct evidence to prove that the fired paramedic was, in fact, responsible. Instead, they have referred to the link between the paramedic and the tampered with drugs as being circumstantial.
For his part, the employee claims that his termination was retaliation for complaints he made about the ambulance service’s poor security measures and tracking system for prescription narcotics. He insists that his firing was a violation of law given his status as a whistleblower.
Individuals who reveal a danger to public health, agency misconduct or a gross waste of funds by a public agency may find themselves locked in a battle of conflicting stories with an employer accused of retaliation. This is where an attorney with employment law experience might be of assistance in establishing a client’s status as a legitimate whistleblower.
Source: Post Crescent, “Patients not notified about tampered drugs,” Eric Litke, Aug 10, 2015