A medical physicist has filed a lawsuit against the hospital where he formerly worked, claiming that he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reporting safety concerns to federal authorities. According to an article from the Seattle P-I, former employee Lawrence Slate claimed that he faced retaliation after he reported concerns to the federal government about the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital’s storage of nuclear waste and use of radiation treatment on patients.
Slate had reported safety concerns about the hospital’s operating practices to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He claims that a vial of radioactive waste was lost by the hospital and that he believes that it wound up in a county landfill. Slate also alleges that his superiors ignored his concerns about the treatment of radioactive waste and prohibited him from talking to anyone about it, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In addition, Slate alleged that the hospital engaged in other unlawful practices, such as having him sign prescriptions in doctors’ absence, using radiation treatments on cancer patients without clear evidence that they had cancer, or improperly billing patients for services they did not receive.
Washington state law provides protections to employees who act as whistleblowers and report their employers’ unlawful practices. For example, the Washington State Employee Whistleblower Protection Act provides protections to state employees who report their employers’ improper actions. In addition, some Washington laws provide protection to whistleblowers who report violations of laws, such as the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which protects employees who oppose or report unlawful discrimination.
In addition, many federal laws provide protections to whistleblowers who report violations of the laws. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Act prohibits an employer from firing or discriminating against an employee who reports or complains about workplace safety issues or health hazards. In addition, other federal laws, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act protect whistleblowers from termination or discrimination for whistleblowing activities.
Whistleblowers’ legal protections often but do not always apply to both an employee’s internal complaint to an employer. The protections do apply to an official complaint made to a government agency, as well as to an employee who participates or assists in a federal agency’s investigation. Depending on which law applies to the employer’s conduct, whistleblowers have either 30, 60, or 90 days to report any kind of unlawful retaliation. If the government determines that an employer wrongfully retaliated against a whistleblower, that employee is entitled to back wages, job reinstatement, and court and legal fees. Some laws also allow employees to file private whistleblower lawsuits in court.
Legal protections for whistleblowers are in place so that employees are not afraid to report their employers’ wrongful acts. If you believe that you have been wrongfully fired or have faced discrimination because you complained about an employer’s unlawful activities, an employment lawyer can help you understand your options.