Hospitals are among the most dangerous work environments in the nation. From lifting hazards to bloodborne pathogen risks, all manners of medical professionals face very real workplace hazards on a daily basis. Now, a group of medical workers within California’s Kaiser Permanente system are complaining that they were subject to retaliation after reporting wrongdoing in the workplace. Those employees say they were forced to work in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and that they lost their jobs because of their complaints.
Reports show the two workers were employed in the environmental services department at the Kaiser Fontana Medical Center. More than 10 years after they both began work, Kaiser’s management decided to implement a contracting program that required the workers to report to two sets of supervisors. That change, which occurred in 2010, brought worsening work conditions to the facility, according to the legal complaint. Both of the plaintiffs in this case were injured by poorly designed new carts that were introduced by the new contractor. After they filed workers’ compensation claims in connection with those injuries, Kaiser supervisors began to treat them differently.
Their previous complaints were held against them when the two workers attempted to report unsanitary working conditions, according to the legal document. In one harrowing account, the workers describe being forced to clean up raw sewage and other contaminated body fluids without the use of personal protective equipment. In addition, workers were not given adequate cleaning supplies to deal with that particular basement flood. These workers were also concerned that the new contractor was not providing appropriate chemicals to sanitize the hospital rooms for continued use.
Official reports show that the pair is suing for discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation under California state law. They are seeking a wide variety of damages in connection with the incidents, which caused them great financial and emotional distress. Workers in all industries have the right to safe working environments, as well as the right to file complaints when safety issues arise. When retaliation, harassment or termination occurs because of those complaints, workers have the right to seek redress through the civil court system.
www.courthousenews.com, “Kaiser employees: Fired for whistleblowing” Philip A. Janquart, Oct. 04, 2013