Retaliation can come in subtle forms, including negative or unflattering performance reviews, a combative or generally unpleasant working environment, removing some or all of an employee’s duties, cutting an employee’s pay or commissions, moving an employee’s office or workspace to a less desirable location, or restricting an employee’s ability to do his or her job properly or effectively.
What is Health Care Worker Retaliation?
Historically, health care workers in Wisconsin risked their jobs if they reported quality of care concerns in the workplace. However, in 1999, and in an effort to curb quality of care issues and protect health care workers who report quality of care issues from retaliation, the Wisconsin Legislature passed the Health Care Worker Protection statute.
Under the statute, health care employees in health care facilities and of health care providers who report quality of care concerns to persons in a position to take corrective action are protected from retaliation for reporting the concerns. To be protected, the concerns have to be reported in “good faith.”
In construction and method of proof, health care worker retaliation is highly similar to retaliation for opposing discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
Health care facilities include such facilities as nursing homes, residential care apartments, hospices, adult family homes, hospitals, and county mental health complexes.
Health care providers are the individuals providing the care and include such positions as nurses, chiropractors, dentists, physicians, physical therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, massage therapists, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), speech therapists, psychologists, and social workers. Some agencies and partnerships also fall into this category, such as home health agencies and partnerships of providers.
Quality of care concerns can mean many things; however, the most common form is a complaint about abuse or neglect of a patient or resident of a health care facility. Such abuse can be in the form of bodily harm, emotional abuse, or even sexual abuse. Other examples of “concerns” include but are not limited to reporting understaffing in the facility objecting to a standard of care issue, and reporting theft or other forms of financial exploitation.
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