Doyle Dennis represents employees of hospitals, who have been wrongfully targeted for retaliation after reporting violations of law either externally or internally within the hospital. Under Texas Administrative Code § 133.43 and Texas Health and Safety Code § 161.134, a “hospital, mental health facility, or treatment facility may not retaliate against a person who is an employee for reporting a violation of law, including a violation of this chapter, a rule adopted under this chapter, or a rule of another agency.”
Who is protected?
In passing Section 161.134, the Texas legislature passed important protections for employees who have been retaliated against by a hospital, mental health facility, or treatment facility. The Health & Safety Code’s definition of “hospital” includes “general hospitals” and “special hospitals.” The Texas Department of Health and Human Services maintains a current list of the licensed “general hospitals” and “special hospitals.” While many doctors are not employees of hospitals, over the past decade hospitals have attempted to push doctors to become hospital employed. As the following my be protected under Section 161.134: anesthesiologist, internists, surgeons, urologists, family physicians, emergency physicians, cardiologists, obstetricians and gynecologists, neurologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, dentists, optometrists, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, Residents, interns, medical students, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, patient advocate, patient care technicians, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physical therapist, Phlebotomist, and other healthcare workers.
What is an adverse act?
Texas law protects a hospital employee who has been suspended, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against.
What type of reports are protected?
Under Section 161.134, a hospital employee is protected for reporting any violation of law, including a violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a rule adopted under Texas Health and Safety Code, or a rule of another agency. This protection broadly includes any report of any violation of law or rule of an agency.
How do I prove retaliation or wrongful termination?
To prove a violation of Section 161.134, an employee must show: he or she (1) is an employee of a hospital; (2) reported a violation of law, (3) to a supervisor, administrator, state regulatory agency, or a law enforcement agency, (4) in good faith, and (4) as a result, the physician was suspended, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against. Similar to Section 161.135, an employee has a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if “before the 60th day after the date on which the plaintiff made a report in good faith, the hospital, mental health facility, or treatment facility: . . . transfers, disciplines, suspends, terminates, or otherwise discriminates against the person.”
What are the deadlines for filing a claim?
Under Section 161.134, an employee must file a claim within 180 days that the employee received notice of the adverse action.
What other claims are available?
In addition to the protection for a non-employee under Section 161.134, a physician or non-hospital employee may have other causes of actions available, including a Sabine Pilot retaliation claim, tortious interference, and defamation. In addition, nurses may maintain a claim under Texas Occupations Code § 301.352, § 301.413, and § 301.4025.
What Damages are available?
If an employee shows a violation of Section 161.134, they may be entitled to lost past and future wages, mental anguish, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees.