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Missouri nurses who whistleblow may be wrongfully terminated

Most everyone would agree that nurses face challenges in their jobs that many Missouri employees would never be able tolerate. Yet these dedicated health care providers seem to thrive in a fast-paced atmosphere where life and death scenarios play out every shift.

But some situations even make level-headed nurses unsure when it comes to making the right decisions. According to Nurse.com, nurses who become aware of ethical or legal breaches in the workplace must summon all their moral courage when they decide to become a workplace whistleblower to right egregious wrongs.

The American Nurses Association defines whistleblowing as "the act of going outside a place of employment to report serious problems, such as those that endanger patients." The National Whistleblowers Center, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., cites studies that show whistleblowing as the most critical resource in uncovering and reporting corporate fraud.

In Missouri, public employees are protected under Code 105.055, which prohibits employers from taking disciplinary action if a worker speaks out about the day-to-day operations of an agency with state auditors or members of legislative bodies, or reports violations of rules, regulations or laws. Public employees are also able to discuss gross waste of the public funds, authority abuses, mismanagement or specific and substantial dangers to the public safety and health, as long as these disclosures are not specifically prohibited by other laws.

However, most Missouri nurses work in privately owned health care facilities and are not public workers. For them, blowing the virtual whistle can result in bouts of anxiety, assaults on professional and personal reputations, wrongful termination and even threats of actual physical violence. They can be shunned by their peers and find themselves unemployable for their actions.

While it is important to bring to the light dangerous and fraudulent practices, those considering whistleblowing should take certain precautions before making that call. Consulting with an employment law professional can be of invaluable assistance before initiating the process.

Source: FindLaw, "Missouri Whistleblower Laws" Aug. 05, 2014

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