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Ex-Kaiser Permanente worker's case hits snag

A licensed clinical social worker who was formerly employed at a California healthcare facility operated by Kaiser Permanente allegedly received an indirect death threat from one of her patients. She asked her employer to file a restraining order against the patient, but Kaiser failed to do so and eventually fired her. She claims that she was later wrongfully discharged, but a U.S. district judge says that she needs to present the court with more factual evidence.

Kaiser Permanente allegedly punished the woman because she apparently looked at the patient's medical records in what constituted a patient privacy violation. According to her lawsuit, however, the healthcare firm also lied when it claimed that she had permitted a non-supervised hospital trip for a patient who was known to be suicidal. The judge said that the woman did not present evidence that she had expressed her specific concerns to her employer when she sought the restraining order, and she was granted 20 days to amend and refile her complaint.

The employee is accused of failing to use in-place administrative methods to remedy the situation and not contesting the disciplinary termination. Although the judge did assert that the ex-employee needed to present more evidence, he pointed out that the firm terminated her without advanced notice or any kind of hearing and that she was not required to use administrative methods as a result.

Termination that occurs following workplace incidents isn't always justified, but these firings can nonetheless cause serious problems for the employees whom they target. Loss of income and pensions may make it difficult for people to pay their bills or contest their discharge circumstances. An employment attorney may be able to help these individuals file lawsuits and take advantage of state employee protection laws in order to pursue compensation.

Source: Courthouse News, "Kaiser Worker's Retaliation Case Needs Work", Matt Reynolds, September 20, 2013

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