The Law of Wrongful Discharge

Can a medical care worker sue if he is fired for reporting an incident of medical negligence?

Posted by Bradley Glazier | Mar 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

Yes. A little known statute prohibits an employer from discharging an employee who reports medical malpractice.

The statute, MCL 333.20176a, states:

(1) A health facility or agency shall not discharge or discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee ... because the employee ... (a) In good faith reports or intends to report, verbally or in writing, the malpractice of a health professional ...”

But what about the at-will employment rule?

There is an exception to the at-will employment rule when the discharge of an employee violates a statute and the statute contains an explicit legislative statement prohibiting the discharge of employees who act in accordance with a statutory right or duty. The claim is called the “public policy exception to the at will employment rule.” The leading case is Suchodolski v. Mich. Consol. Gas Co., 412 Mich. 692, 695, 316 N.W.2d 710 (1982) (discharge for refusing to falsify pollution reports was actionable under the public policy exception).

In Landin v. Healthsource Saginaw, Inc., 305 Mich. App. 519, 529, 854 N.W.2d 152, 161 (2014), the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a substantial jury verdict entered in favor of a licensed practical nurse who claimed he was terminated because he reported negligence committed by a coworker to his supervisor. He believed that the negligence led to the death of a patient and claimed that the hospital where he worked retaliated against him for making the report. The court of appeals upheld the verdict. The Michigan Supreme Court granted an application for leave to appeal, but later vacated the order.

About the Author

Bradley Glazier

Bradley K. Glazier has enjoyed his success as trial lawyer for more than 30 years. In that time, Mr. Glazier has presented dozens of cases to judges, juries and arbitrators. He is a frequent speaker at employment litigation seminars.

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