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Can Healthcare Workers Be Fired For Speaking Publicly About Hospital Conditions During The Coronavirus Crisis?

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A March 31, 2020 Bloomberg article claimed that hospitals are threatening to fire healthcare workers who publicly speak out about their working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the article even referenced some healthcare workers who have already been fired for doing so.

For example, the article cited an emergency room physician in Washington was fired because he’d given an interview to a newspaper detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. A Chicago nurse filed a wrongful termination claim after she was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty.

New Hampshire law also recognizes a wrongful termination claim. In New Hampshire, it is unlawful to terminate an employee in bad faith, malice, or retaliation based on an employee’s performance of an act that public policy would encourage or based on the employee’s refusal to perform an act that public policy would condemn. In the midst of a pandemic health crisis, many healthcare workers might speak out publicly about their working conditions for reasons encouraged by public policy.

For example, a healthcare worker might speak out about working conditions or lack of protective gear to encourage donations. Additionally, a healthcare worker might also speak out about the dangerousness of their working conditions to raise awareness about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and encourage the public to stay home. It seems that speaking out in these ways may be encouraged by public policy and, therefore, terminating a New Hampshire employee for doing so may constitute a wrongful termination.

If you are a New Hampshire healthcare worker who has been fired or otherwise retaliated against for speaking publicly about your working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, you need an experienced employment attorney. Please call us at (603) 288-1403 to see if we can help or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.