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Nurses and Whistleblower Protections

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of nurses and other healthcare professionals in a whole new way. Nurses are on the “front lines” of healthcare, often the first people to notice and report a problem. What happens when you speak up, and your employer retaliates?

Fortunately, whistleblower laws exist to protect nurses from retaliation from employers and colleagues.

Whistleblower protections for nurses

Whistleblowers are people who notice and report misconduct within an organization. This can include discrimination, dangerous working conditions, fraud, corruption or illegal acts. Because employers and colleagues often do not take kindly to being reported, both federal and state laws have been enacted to protect whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or otherwise retaliated against.

The federal Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) has been in existence since 1978. Federal employees who speak out about issues are protected from retaliation—but it only applies to people who work for the government. Nurses are instead protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) and the False Claims Act (FCA). These laws protect employees who organize activity to improve working conditions, who report unsafe working conditions and who report fraud against the government (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid fraud claims).

There are also state laws which create whistleblower protections for nurses and other healthcare workers. Depending on the type of claim involved, federal law, state law or both may apply.

Why do nurses need protection?

Nurses are expected to advocate for their patient’s protection and safety while working, but reporting violations can be a minefield. They may be fired, demoted or otherwise experience retaliation after reporting unsafe practices—but if they don’t, their patients and colleagues may be at risk. Whistleblower protection laws allow nurses to report unsafe working conditions or other violations without fear.

If you’re a nurse ready to blow the whistle at your workplace, an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group can help. Call today for a consultation.

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In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.