ACA Whistleblower Claim Revived by Justice Department Review Board

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board recently revived a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) claim made by a whistleblower who was a former nurse at the Medical Center of Aurora. The board says an administrative law judge was mistaken in finding she did not meet the requirements for an ACA whistleblower claim.

In allowing the case to proceed, the board referenced its decision in the 2012 case Evans v. U.S. EPA, in which the standard was established that the plaintiff needed only to allege “some facts” on the protected activity in question and show “some relatedness” about the statutes in question. According to the board, the plaintiff, Kitty Gallas, did meet either of those minimum standards.

History of the dispute

The dispute dates back to 2013, when Gallas made her first complaint that the TeleMental Health program introduced by the hospital ignored certain medical standards requiring all psychiatric health assessments to be conducted in person. She raised these concerns with her supervisors, arguing the program violated federal law, but the supervisors responded that they believed the program was compliant with the law.

Gallas regularly refused to conduct these assessments remotely, telling the hospital that her participation in the program could put her license in jeopardy. Her supervisors then warned her she would be fired if she did not participate. The hospital did end up firing her in July 2014.

Soon after her termination, Gallas filed a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, claiming she was improperly terminated for reporting the violations. She also filed retaliation claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Gallas can now proceed with her ACA case, thanks to the decision by the DOL’s Administrative Review Board.

For further guidance on your legal options if you discover wrongdoing on the part of your employer, speak with a knowledgeable Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.