One of the threads we’ve been developing in this blog concerns the protections that the law provides to whistleblowers who speak up about wrongdoing by their employers.
In our April 25 post, for example, we discussed a retaliation case involving a former police officer who helped to expose illegalities in the implementation of the New York City Police Department’s overly intensive stop-and-frisk practices.
In today’s post, we will take note of another important whistleblower case. This one involves not the police, but a public hospital that gave out botched lab results to a number of patients, falsely telling them that they had HIV.
A longtime employee who became a whistleblower in the case is suing the hospital. She contends that the hospital has made her work life miserable since she spoke out about the glaring mistakes in the pathology lab.
To be specific, the hospital is Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn. Our firm is representing the employee in a legal challenge to the retaliation and harassment she has been subjected to by lab supervisors and hospital administrators.
Retaliation against a whistleblower can take many forms, from outright firing to creating a hostile work environment. None of these forms is permitted by the law.
In this case, the employee is still working for the employer. But the 51-year-old laboratory associate asserts that she has been treated miserably by her employer for giving voice to her concerns about egregious testing errors in the pathology lab.
The origins of the case go back more than a decade, to 2002. That was when the employee first spoke to city health officials about incompetent lab technicians and a pattern of giving patients incorrect results about their medical tests.
Though city officials did not take corrective action, a city inspector did eventually find merit in the allegations.
Finally, in 2011, the whistleblower complained again. She complained to state health officials and professional organizations. In due course, the state fined the hospital for violating safety standards for lab testing.
But the whistleblower had to endure a series of retaliatory actions by the hospital. These included poor performance evaluations and suspension for alleged work violations.
The lawsuit she is bringing is intended to hold the hospital accountable for this improper conduct.
Source: Huffington Post, “Kings County Hospital Center In Brooklyn Told Wrong Patients They Had HIV,” Whistle-Blower Says,” James Farnelli, Nov. 22, 2013