Whistle-blowers’ Federal Protection

Know Your Rights

Whistle-blowers need federal protection. Whistle-blower disclosures save lives as well as billions of taxpayer dollars. Whistle-blowers play a key role in keeping nursing homes honest, efficient, and accountable. Since the pandemic started, we have been getting numerous phone calls from nursing home staff members with credible complaints.

Many caregivers tell us horror stories about what is going on in nursing homes. Lack of PPE. Covering up Covid deaths. Refusing to send residents to the hospital. Lying to families. Refusal to communicate with other health care providers. Not enough qualified staff to take care of the residents.

We thought today would be a good reminder about Whistleblower Protection Information. General information is summarized in the OSC publication entitled “Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs.” You should also consult the website of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for additional information.

“Protected Disclosure”

Federal law protects employees when employers punish staff for making protected disclosures. These disclosures may include fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or substantial and specific danger to public safety or health. Staff with knowledge should report it to the OPM Office of the Inspector General (OIG) using the OIG Hotline because it may save lives.

A “protected disclosure” includes any disclosure of information that a caregiver reasonably believes evidences—violation of any law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Retaliation includes almost any personnel action, failure to take a personnel action, or threat to take a personnel action, which adversely affects the whistle-blower, such as: A non-promotion; A disciplinary action; A detail, transfer or reassignment; An unfavorable performance evaluation; A decision concerning pay, benefits or awards; or A significant change in duties, responsibilities or working conditions.

A new interactive database from KFF’s Kaiser Health News (KHN) and Guardian US reveals that many of the 1000 U.S. health care workers have died in facilities with shortages of protective equipment such as gowns, masks, gloves and face shields. People of color and nurses account for a disproportionate share of deaths among those profiled so far.

Whistle-blowers need federal protection. Call us because we can help.