Social Worker Whistleblowers

Doyle Dennis Avery LLP represents social workers who have reported violations of law, patient safety, or unethical conduct. Specifically, this includes claims under Texas Occupational Code 505.603.   Section 505.603 provides important and strong protections to licensed social workers, including Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Who is protected?

Under Texas law, a social worker” means a person who holds any license, issued by the state of Texas under the Texas Occupational Code.  The specific licenses, include: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LMSW-AP) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

What is Protected?

A social worker engages in protected activity under Texas law by providing a written, signed report to the appropriate licensing board, agency, or facility, that the social worker has reasonable cause to believe has exposed a client to substantial risk of harm, including: (1) a failure to provide care that conforms to the minimum standards of acceptable and prevailing professional practice; (2) illegal billing practices; or (3) falsification of records. Unlike other reporting requirements under the Occupational Code, the social work protection appears to mandate that all reports must be signed and in writing.

What is wrongful termination or retaliation?

Texas law prohibits an employer from retaliating against a social worker by suspending or terminating the employment of, or otherwise disciplining or discriminating against, a person who makes a report, without malice.

How do I prove wrongful termination or retaliation?

Similar to other statutes under the Texas Occupational Code, Section 505.603 provided a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if: “(1) the person was suspended or terminated within 60 days after the date the report was made; and (2) the person to whom the report that is the subject of the cause of action was made or the court determines that the report was: authorized under this subchapter; and made without malice.”

What other claims are available?

In addition to this protection, a social worker may have other causes of actions available, including a Sabine Pilot retaliation claim, tortious interference, defamation, and Texas Administrative Code § 133.43 and Texas Health and Safety Code § 161.134.

What are the deadlines for filing a wrongful termination or retaliation claim?

A social worker must file a lawsuit within 180 days of receiving notice of the adverse action against them.

What Damages are available?

Social workers may recover actual damages, including damages for mental anguish, exemplary damages, court costs; and reasonable attorney’s fees.