Health care employees in Wisconsin may benefit from learning more about the protections for whistle-blowers provided by the state. The protections are guaranteed under the Health Care Worker Protection statute that was introduced in 1999. People who report standard of care violations in good faith are indemnified against retaliation from their employer. Concerns regarding hospital errors and nursing home complaints have been on the rise, as the frequency of each has increased over the past few decades.
Wisconsin employees who have made certain reports about an employer's activities may be protected by state and federal law. The types of protection that are available are based on the type of claim that was made, the employer's identification, state law and case law. Additionally, contract or tort causes of action may be available for an employee who was retaliated against.
Wisconsin veterans might have heard that records regarding deceased veterans have been changed or physically altered before and after the media revealed the Veterans Affairs scandal. Numerous whistleblowers have alleged serious allegations against the VA, including assertions that it attempted to cover up the number of people who have died while waiting for care.
The United States Supreme Court unanimously decided to overturn part of a lower court's ruling rejecting the claim of a former community college official who attributed his firing to retaliation for his testimony against a state representative. The ruling could inform the handling of many future whistleblowing cases in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Wisconsin veterans may be concerned about multiple whistleblowers who have alleged that they faced retaliation after coming forward with stories of patient abuse and mismanagement at several VA facilities. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has received 37 complaints from VA employees. The OSC - the agency investigating the claims involving VA facilities in 19 states - says that there appears to be a culture that punishes whistleblowers. Since May 15, the website VAOversight.org has received around 640 submissions, around 20 percent of which were filed by former and current VA employees.
In a scandal that affects facilities in Wisconsin and across the nation, the Office of Special Counsel is looking into 37 claims of retaliation against those who reported problems at the Veterans Affairs Department. The alleged whistleblower incidents have occurred at VA facilities across 19 states. Employees claim they have suffered retaliation after reporting incidents that include poor handling of money, not following scheduling procedures and the inappropriate restraint of patients.
Employees in Wisconsin may be interested in the recent case of a former St. Louis police chemist who was awarded $175,000 on claims she was fired for being a whistleblower. After a weeklong trial in St. Louis Circuit Court, the jury concluded that the chemist was terminated for pointing out errors in the crime lab's drug testing processes.
When an employer is doing illegal or dangerous activity, this can have a negative impact on customers and on society at large. This is why speaking up about the wrongdoing is so critical for an employee who discovers it, in Wisconsin or elsewhere. Unfortunately, being a whistleblower can have unintended consequences, such as getting fired by the employer. An individual who becomes a victim of employer retaliation after blowing the whistle can seek to hold the company responsible for this unjust action.
People naturally don't like to be betrayed. This is why some companies view a whistleblower as a traitor and as being untrustworthy. However, if a company retaliates against a worker for blowing the whistle on the company's unethical practices, then the employee may feel betrayed by a company he or she initially thought was upstanding. It is unlawful for employers in Wisconsin to treat employees badly simply because they spoke up about potentially unethical or illegal issues at the workplace.
People naturally think that if they do good deeds, they will be rewarded. Meanwhile, those who do bad deeds should be punished. However, things don't always work like this in Wisconsin. A whistleblower may feel as though he or she is committing a good act in society by calling attention to an immoral or unethical situation. In reality, rewarding the whistleblower likely is the farthest thing from the mind of an employer who is the subject of the whistleblowing situation.