There are many whistle blower laws in California (see Labor Code 1102.5, the grandfather of them all), but a specific one for all California health care workers (including doctors) to know about is Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5. This protects anyone who reports issues with patient stafety. It prohbits any health facility from discrimination or retaliation against a patient, employee, medical staff member of other health care personnel for reporting suspected unsafe patient care or conditions. As one of California’s largest and most aggressive health care worker law firms, we are pleased to report a new case favorablhy interpreting this law.
If your termination or other adverse action (such as a cut in hours, transfer to a remove location, demotion in title or duties) occures within 120 days of the report, the burden shifts to the emloyer to show that the adverse action was not done in retaliation for the complaint. Further, except in limited circumstances involving some public employees such as UC employees, there is no need to first file an administrative claim with any agency.
In the very recent case of Fahlen vs. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals, a physicaion reported unsafe nursing standards. He claimed that he was denied his privileges to pracdtice at the hospital in retaliation for the report. Our Supreme Court held that healthcare safety is enhanced by giving plaintiffs an automatic right to go to court without waiting months or even years to first exhaust internal complaint procedures.
Even CSU employees who are required to first exhaust administrative remedies may go to court if they don’t feel that the agency investigation “satisfactorily addressed” their complaint. Runyon vs. Board of Trustees involve a CSU whistle blower. With the addition of languageto Health and Safety Code 8547.10(c), the right to go to court even with a “bad” internal decision is recognized.
Danz & Associates represents health care industry whistle blowers and has achieved million dollar + verdicts, such as our landmark case of Maxwell vs. Beverly Enterprises.