California Whistleblower Gets $1 Million In Hospital Suit

A California state worker will receive $1 million from several sources after she was reportedly disciplined for reporting unethical practices. The woman, a hospital psychologist, contended that she was unfairly pressured to approve mentally ill patients for criminal trials. When she decided on reporting wrongdoing in the workplace, she reportedly suffered from workplace retaliation. She was ultimately fired in 2010 after being falsely accused of committing perjury, according to the lawsuit.

The woman said that she was pressured by supervisors at the Napa State Hospital to declare certain patients competent to stand trial. The hospital’s psychology department chief made statements and policy changes that encouraged psychologists to lower evaluation standards and use untested methods. Even though some people thought the evaluations were bogus, the supervisor reportedly used the workplace peer-review process as leverage to push staff into unethical behavior.

In 2008, the woman was scrutinized by the legal system because of the inaccurate approval of one patient. During formal legal proceedings, she explained that the company was using improper evaluation methods that compromised the process. After making those statements, the woman was targeted by several other employees in retaliation. She said her professional credentials were subject to tampering, and the other workers attempted to blackmail her through the peer-review process.

A jury accepted Samuelson’s whistleblower retaliation claim in late February. Three of those offending supervisors were ordered to pay several thousand dollars each, with the Department of State Hospitals compensating the woman in the amount of $890,000. An attorney for the woman said the plaintiff was happy with the outcome of the case, but she is worried about her future treatment at the hospital.

No worker should be made to feel guilty for reporting unethical behavior in the workplace. They should also be protected from demotion or losing their job for reporting unlawful behavior at work. A California employment attorney may be able to provide additional information for those who believe they have been subject to whistleblower retaliation.

Source: The Fresno Bee, “California state employee awarded $1 million in whistleblower case” Jon Ortiz, Mar. 07, 2014