Experienced. Resourceful. Aggressive. Responsive.

Understanding your rights against workplace retaliation

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Workplace Retaliation |

A negative workplace experience may leave you wondering if you are a victim of unlawful retaliation. Retaliation is when an employer terminates or takes any type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity.

The adverse action can be almost anything, including a demotion, denial of a promotion, change in hours or reduction in pay. Generally, if the action is one that would discourage an employee from reporting a potential legal violation or participating in a protected activity, it is likely an adverse action.

Examples of protected activities

Protected activities include submitting complaints or participating in a complaint process regarding an employer’s violation of federal employment laws.

This is sometimes seen in the healthcare industry. We trust healthcare providers and nursing homes to take care of us or our loved ones when we become injured or ill. If you are an employee in one of these facilities, you may witness violations that impact the safety and care of patients.

You might hesitate to report these violations out of fear of retaliation. However, you are protected under Kentucky law, specifically, the Kentucky Patient Safety Act.

The Act states that any employee of a healthcare facility who knows or reasonably believes that the safety or quality of care of a patient, or a healthcare facility’s safety is in jeopardy shall report it. The report can be oral or written and be made to a federal, state, public or private agency.

What this means for you as an employee

This means that if you are an employee and reasonably believe that a patient’s safety is at risk or they are not receiving the proper quality of care, you must report it to your employer. You may also report it to an outside agency.

You have a right to report your concerns without being retaliated against by your employer, which unfortunately does sometimes occur. The Act makes it clear that an employee cannot face retaliation from reporting a violation or participating in any resulting investigation involving the report.

The purpose of the act is to keep patients safe and encourage employees to report problems without fearing for their jobs. Workers in the healthcare industry serve valuable roles, taking care of the most vulnerable members of society and ensuring they receive high-quality treatment.

Unfortunately, the Act does not always prevent employers from engaging in retaliation when an employee reports a legal violation, despite its powerful provisions designed to protect employees. You may experience an adverse employment action after coming forward and reporting a violation.

Exercising your rights under the law

If this happens, it is a violation of your legal rights. Proving retaliation can be challenging, but if you succeed, you will receive compensation intended to make you “whole” again. This could mean reinstatement into your former position, back pay or any other compensation to recoup the losses you suffered because of your employer’s retaliation.