In September of 2013, the United States Court of Appeals of Kentucky heard a case involving a Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination matter. The opinion is not final and should not be cited as authority in any court of the commonwealth of Kentucky. (See Foster v. Jennie Stuart Medical Center, 2013 WL 5296292 (Ky.App. 2013)). This was an appeal from the lower court that had granted summary judgment against the plaintiffs in this case. Both plaintiffs were registered nurses at the time of their firing.
In this Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination case, there was an anonymous email that was sent to the Kentucky Board of Nursing on February 20, 2010. It reported that there were suspected nursing practices at JSMC. The email was forwarded to JSMC on February 22, 2010. JSCMC then began an investigation into the matter.
Plaintiffs claim the investigation was not initiated to rectify the complaints listed in the e-mail but to find the send or senders of the e-mail. Id. On February 26, 2010, both plaintiffs were terminated. Both hired a Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination lawyer and both filed civil complaints against the wrongful parties for unlawful retaliation in violation of KRS 216B.165(3), common-law wrongful termination, and a few other counts. It was later determined that Plaintiff Foster was the actual person who had sent the emails.
After summary judgment the only claims left were Plaintiff Foster’s claims for whistleblower retaliation and common-law wrongful termination. Id. This appeal followed.
As to the common-law wrongful termination the court looked at the law. The elements of wrongful termination are: 1) the discharge must be contrary to a fundamental and well defined public policy as evidenced by existing law, 2) that policy must be evidenced by a constitutional or statutory provision, and 3) the decision of whether the public policy asserted meets these criteria is a question of law for the court to decide, not a question of fact. (cites omitted). This court held that the Plaintiff Oliver could maintain a claim for wrongful termination. The statute in question requires an employee to report qualify of care and safety problems. And it states in part that the heath care facility shall not hinder the ability of the employees to make these reports. So, if at trial it is proven that the plaintiff was discharged because it was believed she made the anonymous report, it would violate the stated public policy to ensure safe health care facilities, thereby meeting the elements of common law wrongful termination. Id.
Finally, the court concluded that the dismissal of the individuals was proper as it applied to the wrongful termination. The statute only applies to healthcare facilities and not individual employees. Thus, the common law wrongful termination being based on the statute only applies to healthcare facilities. So, these claims as to the individuals were properly dismissed. The Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination lawyer was allowed to continue with some of his counts.
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination case, please call and speak to a Kentucky Whistleblower Wrongful Termination lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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