The law protects employees from termination and other forms of retaliation for reporting certain kinds of activities and wrongful conduct. However, not all reports are protected. A case recently decided by the Supreme Court of Ohio clarified that persons working in nursing homes and similar long term care facilities cannot be retaliated against for making a report of suspected abuse or neglect of a resident of the facility: Hulsmeyer v. Hospice of Southwest Ohio, Inc.
The plaintiff in Hulsmeyer was hired by Hospice in April 2010 and was quickly promoted to the position of Team Manager. In October 2011, the plaintiff learned that a nurse noticed bruising on a resident at one of the facilities in which Hospice provides inpatient care. The nurse suspected it was caused by abuse or neglect by the facility’s staff. The plaintiff immediately reported the suspected abuse or neglect to the facility’s director of nursing. The plaintiff then informed the chief clinical officer of Hospice and the resident’s daughter of the suspected abuse or neglect. The facility was upset that the plaintiff had contacted the family’s daughter and made its dissatisfaction known to Hospice. Shortly thereafter Hospice terminated the plaintiff.
The plaintiff filed a complaint alleging, among other claims, that the defendants terminated her employment in violation of the anti-retaliation provision in Ohio Revised Code Section 3721.24. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the statute requires an employee to report the suspected abuse or neglect to the Ohio Director of Health in order to invoke the statute’s protection from retaliation. The trial court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the case, and the plaintiff appealed. The appellate court reversed the trial court, and the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.
The Supreme Court engaged in an analysis of the applicable statute and held that “the plain language of R.C. 3721.24 protects employees or other persons used to perform work or services from retaliation for reporting or indicating an intention to report suspected abuse or neglect of residents of long-term care facilities and does not require that the report be made to the director of health.” The Court determined that the plaintiff could not be terminated for reporting the suspected abuse and neglect to the resident’s family.
The law discussed in Hulsmeyer is just one of the laws protecting employees from retaliation. If you feel you have been terminated or otherwise retaliated against for making a report of wrongful conduct, you should contact an experienced Cincinnati employment lawyer. Some laws require an employee to follow certain steps when reporting in order to gain protection from retaliation. If you are considering reporting wrongful conduct related to your employment, you should contact a Cincinnati employment lawyer who can explain whether your actions are protected, and if so, what steps you should take to ensure protection.