Recently, a retaliation lawsuit from New Jersey grabbed national headlines. In that case, a nurse who had worked at the same hospital for more than three decades complained about healthcare professionals misusing Benadryl to make overnight patients drowsy. After her report, though, the nurse received a poor performance evaluation and had to work on a floor that did not match her skill set.
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse employment action against a worker for blowing the whistle on impermissible conduct, filing a legal claim or otherwise exercising his or her legal rights. While retaliation can happen in any workplace, the unique nature of hospitals often creates a perfect breeding ground for it.
There are three elements to a retaliation claim. First, an employee must engage in a protected activity. Then, the individual must experience some type of adverse employment action, such as a demotion, shift change or negative review. Finally, there must be a nexus or causal link between the activity and adverse employment action.
Identifying problems in hospitals
Illegal retaliation can happen in any workplace. Still, hospitals have some distinctive characteristics that may make retaliation more common. For example, healthcare professionals must often work around the clock. As such, after a retaliation claim, a supervisor may move a nurse to an overnight or weekend shift. Alternatively, because hospitals have many different departments and levels of care, an unscrupulous supervisor may place a worker in a setting where he or she simply cannot succeed.
Your job should not be in jeopardy simply because you raised concerns with your employer. If you think you have been the victim of workplace retaliation, you must act quickly to further assert your legal rights. After all, because of retaliation, you may lose your job, an expected raise or the enjoyment that comes from work.
If you work in a hospital, you must provide excellent care to those who need it most. You should not, however, have to put up with retaliation. By understanding why this conduct often occurs in hospitals, you can better plan for protecting both your job and your future employment prospects.