Whistleblower Protection Laws for Healthcare Workers

Several federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report practices by employers that threaten public health and safety, or violate the law. Other laws prohibit retaliation against employees who file complaints about their own working conditions, including unsafe working conditions. Although the laws vary from state to state, anti-retaliation laws generally prohibit adverse actions such as termination, layoff, demotion, suspension, denial of benefits, reduction in pay, and discipline, when the adverse action is taken in retaliation for employees’ reports of unsafe or unlawful practices. Many states also have laws that protect workers who raise important public policy concerns.

Occupational Health and Safety Laws

The Occupational Safety & Health Act is a federal law that protects workers from retaliation for complaining to their employer, OSHA, or other government agencies about unsafe conditions in the workplace. If you have reported unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, and your employer has retaliated against you for it, you can file an OSHA whistleblower complaint online.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here. The complaint must be filed within 30 days of the employer’s retaliation against you. You can find more information here, and you can file an OSHA whistleblower complaint here.
Several states have their own occupational health and safety laws and state agencies that enforce them. See below for state-specific anti-retaliation provisions that can protect nurses who complain about unsafe conditions in their hospitals.

If you don’t see your state listed, please check back as this information will be updated.

Alabama

Alabama workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Arizona

Arizona Revised Statute § 23-425 prohibits an employer from retaliating against any employee because the employee has filed a complaint with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health.  The full text of ARS § 23-425 can be found here
Arizona Revised Statute § 23-1501 prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for disclosing in a reasonable manner that the employer has violated the state constitution or any state statutes. The protected disclosure can be to a supervisor or to a government agency.
The full text of ARS § 23-1501 can be found here

Arkansas

Arkansas workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

California

California Labor Code 6310 prohibits retaliation against employees for complaining about safety or health conditions or practices, and California Labor Code 6311 prohibits retaliation against employees for refusing to perform work if the work would constitute a violation of any occupational safety or health standard and where the violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee or his or her co-workers.
The full text of California Labor Code Sections 6310 and 6311 can be found here and here
California Labor Code Section 1102.5 prohibits retaliation against employees for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency where the employee has cause to belief that the information discloses violation of state or federal law.
The full text of the statute can be found here
California Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 prohibits health facilities from retaliating against employees or patients who file reports or initiate, participate in, or cooperate in government agency investigations and administrative proceedings relating to quality of care, services, or conditions at an accredited health facility. 
The full text of Health & Safety Code 1278.5 can be found here

Colorado

Colorado workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Delaware

Delaware workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Florida

Florida Statutes § 448.102 prohibits employers from taking any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee has disclosed or threatened to disclose to a government agency an activity or practice of the employer that is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation. The employee must first have brought the unlawful practice or activity to the attention of a supervisor and give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the practice.
The full text of § 448.102 can be found here
Florida workers are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Georgia

Georgia workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Idaho

Idaho workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Illinois

Illinois Compiled Statutes § 210 ILCS 86/35 provides that a hospital may not penalize, discriminate, or retaliate against an employee who discloses to a supervisor, collective bargaining agent, or regulatory agency any activity, policy, or practice of a hospital that violates the law or that the employee reasonably believes poses a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a patient or the public.
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2466&ChapterID=21
Private-sector workers in Illinois are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Kansas

Kansas workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Louisiana

Louisiana workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Michigan

Michigan Compiled Laws §333.20180 protects workers employed by health care facilities who make a report or complaint about a violation of statute or rule, or who assists in the investigation of such a violation. Protected employees may not be discharged, threatened, or otherwise retaliated against by their health care employer.
The full text of §333.20180 can be found here
Michigan law also prohibits discrimination against employees who file occupational safety and health complaints with Michigan OSHA.
The full text of §408.1065 can be found here

Mississippi

Mississippi workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Missouri

Missouri workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Montana

Montana Code § 39-2-904 provides that a discharge is wrongful if it was in retaliation for an employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy. “Public policy” is defined as a policy in effect concerning the public health, safety, or welfare established by constitutional provision, statute, or administrative rule.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/39_2_9.htm
Montana workers are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Nebraska

Nebraska workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Nevada

Nevada Revised Statutes § 618.445 prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee for filing a complaint with the Division of Industrial Relations.
The full text of § 618.445 can be found here

New Hampshire

New Hampshire workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

New Mexico

New Mexico workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

New York

New York Labor Code Article 20-C prohibits health care employers from penalizing employees who make complaints about improper quality of patient care.
The full text of Article 20-C can be found here
Private-sector workers in New York are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

North Carolina

North Carolina General Statute §95-241 prohibits employers from taking any retaliatory action against employee for filing a claim or provides information related to occupational safety and health.
The full text of §95-241 can be found here

North Dakota

North Dakota workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Ohio

Ohio Revised Code § 4113.52 provides that no employer may take any disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee for reporting a violation of any state or federal statute or local ordinance or regulation, which the employee reasonably believes is likely to cause a hazard to the public health or safety.
http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4113
In addition, Ohio Revised Code § 4723.33 provides protection against retaliation for nurses who in good faith report violations of the law.
http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4723.33

Oklahoma

Oklahoma workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Oregon

Oregon Revised Statutes § 654.062 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate in any way against an employee because the employee has opposed any practice forbidden under Oregon’s Safe Employment Act, or made a complaint or report to Oregon OSHA. You can report a workplace hazard by going to https://www4.cbs.state.or.us/exs/osha/hazrep/.
The full text of § 654.062 can be found here
Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.199 prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employees because the employee has in good faith reported information that the employee believes is evidence of a violation of state, local, or federal law or regulation.
The full text of § 659A.199 can be found here

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Rhode Island

Rhode Island workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

South Dakota

South Dakota workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Texas

Texas Health and Safety Code § 161.134 prohibits retaliation by hospitals against employees who report to their supervisors, law enforcement, or state regulatory agencies any violation of law, including patient abuse and neglect, or unprofessional or unethical conduct.
The full text of § 161.134 can be found here
Texas workers are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Virginia

Virginia Code §40.1-51.2:1 prohibits discrimination against employees for filing a safety or health complaint or acted otherwise to exercise protected safety and health rights for themselves or others.
The full text of §40.1-51.2:1 can be found here

Washington

Revised Code of Washington § 43.70.075 provides that whistleblowers who complaint in good faith to the department of health about improper quality of care by a health care provider or in a health care facility shall remain confidential, and employee whistleblowers are protected from retaliation.
The full text of § 43.70.075 can be found here
Revised Code of Washington § 49.17.160 prohibits discrimination against workers who file complaints about workplace safety with government agencies. 
The full text of § 49.17.160 can be found here

West Virginia

West Virginia workers are covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statute 146.997 prohibits health care employers from taking any disciplinary action against employees who report violations of law or situations in which the quality of health care service provided by the facility violates any established clinical or ethical standard. The protected report can be made to any state agency, to any professionally recognized accrediting or standard-setting body, or to any officer, director, or supervisor of the health care facility.
A full text of § 146.997 can be found here
Wisconsin workers are also covered by OSHA, the federal law that prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting workplace health and safety concerns.
The full text of the anti-retaliation provision of OSHA can be found here

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is provided without representation as to its current accuracy. We have not attempted to include all statutes and regulatory materials that may pertain to in a given individual situations and  laws and regulations change frequently and this website may not contain the current version of applicable laws or regulations in the state in which you reside. This information is not intended to substitute for legal advice and it does not contemplate every legal claim you may have. Do not delay seeking legal advice because of information you read here – it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should consult a qualified attorney if you have questions about your rights.