No whistle-blowing if safety rule was unwritten

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law protects employees of government agencies or employers that receive state funding from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing or waste. But the protection doesn’t extend to complaints about unwritten safety rules.

Recent case: Bernadette worked for Thomas Jefferson University’s hospital drug clinic, where she administered methadone. The clinic had an unwritten rule prohibiting injecting patients believed to be intoxicated. Bernadette refused to inject a patient she thought was drunk. When a supervisor overrode her decision, Bernadette complained. She was fired shortly after for poor customer service.

Bernadette sued, alleging retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. The court tossed out the case, reasoning that the rule the supervisor allegedly broke was unwritten and that complaining didn’t constitute whistle-blowing. (Evans v. Thomas Jefferson University, No. 2278 C.D. 2012, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2013)

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