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Whistleblower Protections for Nurses

Posted on September 30, 2020

Standing up for what is right can be difficult if your job is at stake. However, nurses working in Arizona medical facilities may witness patient care abuses and a disregard for state and federal laws. If you are an Arizona nurse who has witnessed negligence at your facility, you do have whistleblower rights available to protect you from retaliation.

Nursing Code of Ethics: Advocacy

The American Nurses Association (ANA) establishes a code of ethics that helps nurses understand how to carry out their responsibilities. Provision 3 of the 2016 Code of Ethics states that a nurse should promote, advocate for, and protect the rights, safety, and health of all of his or her patients.

Nurses must uphold the following duties to adhere to this provision.

  • A nurse must protect a patient’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
  • If a nurse is involved in medical research, he or she must protect the right for human participants in that research.
  • A nurse must uphold medical industry performance standards and follow applicable review mechanisms.
  • A nurse must promote a culture of safety and protect patient health and safety by responding to any questionable practices he or she witnesses.

Arizona Employment Protection Act (AEPA)

The Arizona Employment Protection Act (AEPA) is the existing piece of legislation that protects nurses who make whistleblower reports. While Arizona is an at-will employment state, AEPA prevents employers from firing employees for illegal reasons.

Some of these reasons include unlawful discrimination, violation of contract law, and retaliation. Under AEPA, an employer cannot fire you for refusing to violate Arizona law, informing your employer of a legal violation, or filing a whistleblower complaint. If your employer fired you because of a whistleblower report, you can take legal action against your employer through AEPA.

What to Do If You Experience Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation can come in many forms, from illegal firing and harassment to demotions and pay cuts. If you believe you are the victim of retaliation because you made a whistleblower’s report, take the following steps to preserve evidence and seek assistance.

  • Keep a journal. Document every instance of retaliation you experience, even if it’s as minor as a passing remark or an unusually negative performance review from your supervisor. Write this information down with as much detail as possible.
  • Collect all documents related to your retaliation, including correspondence, corrective actions, severance agreements, and termination letters.
  • If you still work at the hospital, do not quit and continue to uphold your standard of work. Quitting your position can prevent you from seeking recovery from your employer. He or she could also use a declining work ethic as evidence that any termination or punishment was due to your performance, not retaliation.
  • Contact an Arizona nursing rights attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin the filing process.

If you reported any illegal acts while working as a nurse and faced retaliation as a result, you can file a complaint with the Arizona Industrial Commission’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. You must file your complaint within 30 days of the retaliation, or the Commission will likely dismiss your report.

Contact an Arizona Nursing Rights Attorney

Arizona nurses have the right to file a whistleblower complaint to protect patients and advocate for their rights. If you are facing retaliation from an employer, contact an Arizona nursing rights lawyer.

Your attorney can help you understand how to best approach the situation, can protect your rights from retaliatory employers, and seek justice. Save all applicable evidence related to your whistleblower report and contact your retaliation attorney as soon as you can.