Too often nursing home abuse goes unnoticed and unreported. The victims of neglect or overt abuse are often unable to report what is happening to them, or they may be ashamed of being victims. Fortunately there are some brave men and women working in the industry who have come forward and reported the abuses they have witnessed. These whistleblowers have legal protections, but sometimes they can find themselves fired for doing the right thing. A former Illinois nursing home employee claims this is exactly what happened to her.
Whistleblower Claims she was Fired for Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
The Madison Record reports that a whistleblower claims to have been fired by an Illinois nursing home after she reported abuse and neglect that may have led to two nursing-home residents’ deaths in 2014. The woman claims that she first reported the abuse internally, and when nothing was done she reported it to the parent company. When no action was taken she then filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health. A few days later her employer fired her. In her lawsuit she claims that this firing was in retaliation for her reporting the abuse and neglect to the state. At this stage in the proceedings the employer has not yet offered any alternative explanation for her firing, but it may do so eventually.
Whistleblowers Can Provide Vital Information About Abuse and Neglect
Employees of nursing homes are in a unique position. Most people who go into this line of work do so at least in part because they deeply care about the people who they serve. This compassion is a vital part of doing the job well. These good employees can become frustrated when they see the residents of facilities being mistreated. Some work in homes where there are not enough employees to tend to the residents, some do not have enough time to complete their daily tasks, some are not provided with the supplies they need to do their jobs, and some witness full blown abuse by other members of the staff. These healthcare workers can be a very important part of prosecuting violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.
That same act gives whistleblowers legal protection from retaliation for reporting or threatening to report violations of the laws or regulations concerning the care of nursing home residents. These whistleblower protections have been in place since 2010. This means that if you are a nursing home employee who becomes a whistleblower it is illegal for an employer to fire you, reprimand you , suspend you, demote you, refuse to promote you, deny a transfer, or change your employment terms or conditions based on the fact that you filed a complaint. So, in the case of the whistleblower who was fired immediately after she filed a complaint with the state, if she can show that the reason she was fired was because of that complaint, she may be entitled to compensation.
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