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Do I have any recourse after being let go from a new job when I refused to document in an untruthful way?

Monday November 18, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I was hired to work as a wellness coordinator in a small assisted living facility. I knew from the start they were in trouble with the state. I worked there for a short time, and was let go because I would not document in an untruthful way and was fired.

Colleagues feel I should sue this facility because of negative consequences to my career.

The dishonest reporting and practices of the facility were reported to an outside state agency by other nurses and other agencies. It seems the facility administrators just wanted someone to blame for their shortcomings.

Maddi



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Maddi:

You need to consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who concentrates their practice in employment law and represents employees. It may well be you were terminated due to your not going along with practices within the facility and were targeted for termination.

It sounds as though you did not report the unethical and illegal practices to any outside agency, so you are not a "whistleblower." Being a whistleblower brings special protections to you as a former employee who was terminated. But, your state still may provide you with protections concerning the termination and you need to evaluate those protections.

Additionally, you do not know what your former employer is falsely saying about you, either to current employees of the facility, to prospective employers or to the public. If it is doing so, your reputation is at stake and there are protections under the law of defamation for former employees. The attorney with whom you consult also can analyze this issue and provide guidance.

Last, the employer may decide to report you to the state board of nursing for some false violation of the state nurse practice act or rules. This also is a serious matter. Be sure to discuss this with your attorney as well.

Cordially,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.