Nursing Home Employee Rights
If you work in a nursing home, it is possible that you’ve been exposed to conditions that you’re concerned about. Unfortunately, evidence of neglect—and sometimes even abuse—is rampant in many nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. Employees in nursing homes who see these issues often feel compelled to report them, but are also nervous about potentially losing their jobs if they do.
If you or your co workers are concerned about conditions at the assisted living facility where you work, consulting an experienced nursing home attorney can help you understand your options and provide you with peace of mind. There are options for you in terms of reporting and being protected as a whistleblower. Contact us today for a free consultation.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
In 2010, the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was amended to include “whistleblower protection.” This provision specifically creates a private right of action for nursing home employees who face retaliation after reporting or threatening to report to a supervisor or a public body any action or incident they believe to be a violation of the law, a rule, or a regulation regarding care and treatment of nursing home residents. Retaliatory action is defined as any reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion, denial of promotion, denial of transfer, or change in the terms and conditions of employment of an employee precipitated by that employee’s participation in any of the aforementioned protected activities. The provision also protects employees from retaliation for providing information or otherwise participating in any investigation by a public body, such as the Illinois Department of Public Health.
If an employer retaliates against an employee in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act, the affected employee may bring a civil action against the employer for multiple types of relief, including but not limited to:
- Reinstatement of the employee to either the same position held before the retaliatory action or to an equivalent position;
- Double back pay;
- Interest on back pay;
- Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights; and
- Payment of reasonable costs and attorney’s fees.
Similarly, nursing home employees in Illinois are also protected under the State’s Whistleblower Act. The Whistleblower Act prohibits nursing home employers from inhibiting an employee’s right to reveal information about activities that he or she believes to be in violation of State or federal laws, rules, or regulations. The Act shields employees from retaliation by employers for disclosing information regarding such activities to a governmental or law enforcement agency, to a court, before an administrative body at an administrative hearing, before a legislative commission or committee, or during any other such proceeding.
The Act further protects employees from employer retaliation for refusal to participate in conduct that they believe to be in violation of applicable laws. If an employer retaliates against an employee in violation of the Whistleblower Act, the affected nursing home employee may bring a civil action against the employer seeking relief. The Act provides for multiple types of relief, including but not limited to:
- Reinstatement of the affected employee to the same level of seniority status that said employee would have maintained (but for the employer violation);
- Back pay with interest and compensation for any damages sustained as a result of the violation; and
- Litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Employee Protection Attorneys