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Hostile work envorinment/retaliation Tennessee

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  • Hostile work envorinment/retaliation Tennessee

    In March my supervisor was investigated by internal audit both locally and by the State for fraud, waste and abuse due to a letter of complaint they received . Company policy is that employees have to cooperate or risk being disciplined. I cooperated and answered questions. My supervisor was found to have violated policy and reprimanded. Ever since then he has accused me of writing the letter, told other employees I wrote the letter and to watch their backs around me, etc. I didn't write any letter. He has brought this issue up at least once a week since the investigation. Even told me if I didn't write the letter I'd find out who did and let him know. There are only us 2 in our department so it has become quite hostile and unbearable. Last week he gave me a written warning for "bad attitude" with a customer. That same customer sent me an email commending me for my performance and helping them! My supervisor told me I had to sign the reprimand "or else". He told me twice I couldn't have a copy of the reprimand unless I signed it. I checked our company policy and both his statements are incorrect. During this discussion of the reprimand he said "You can write another one of your letters if you want to". I said "What do you mean by that?" His reply "You know exactly what I mean." I recorded the conversation as I haven't trusted him for a while now. Do I have a case for retaliation? All I want is the unwarranted reprimand to be removed from my file.

  • #2
    Have you spoken to HR or a higher-up regarding this?

    Your "case", however, isn't much of one unless you actually experience an adverse job action that has monetary damages, such as a reduction in hours, suspension, or termination.

    BTW, do NOT tell him who wrote the letter, even if you know or find out.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Because of some of the language you use, I'm guessing this was an investigation of Medicaid/Medicare fraud. If so, there are laws that apply in healthcare that don't necessarily apply in other field of employment.

      The federal Dept of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General, enforces fraud, waste, and abuse laws, and also investigates rataliation. Plus, every single state has departments that handle Medicaid fraud & abuse investigations, and each state's laws on Medicaid fraud also include whisteblower protections. If you cooperated in an investigation, you qualify as a whistleblower, even if yoe were not the original complainant, and you have protections against retaliation.

      The supervisor just saying nasty stuff probably won't be seen as a form of retaliation that requires action, but getting a written reprimand moves closer to the kind of retaliation that can be actionable. They will usually only recognize "negative employment actions" like termination, changes in work conditions, or disciplinary actions.

      First, I would contact your company's Compliance Officer and report this as possible retaliation. Any healthcare company going through a fraud investigation will be extra sensitive to anything that even smells like retaliation; they will not want to bring on even more trouble. So your Compliance Officer would be the primary person to contact. If you are not happy with the Compliance Department's response, then report it directly to the body investigating your company, whether it's the feds, the state Medicaid enforcement body, or both.

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      • #4
        Nothing to do with Medicare or health services of any kind but we are considered State employees. When I called HR I was told that if I feel I'm being retaliated against that I need to report it to internal audit since it involves an investigation. They told me where to find the policy. It states "Any person who knowingly and willingly retaliates or takes adverse action of any kind against any person for reporting alleged wrongdoing pursuant to the provisions of this part commits a Class A misdemeanor. In addition, no employee shall suffer any of the actions specified for reporting to or cooperating with auditors or for reporting any facts."

        Maybe I'm wrong but giving me a written warning seems like an adverse action since it would severly hinder my pursuit of another position within. Been employed here 8 years and before the investigation I got the highest marks possible on every part of my annual performance evaluations and had no complaints whatsoever from my previous 2 supervisors. Even got 2 promotions.

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        • #5
          Well, sorry about the healthcare compliance lesson I've had lots of coffee today, and
          I jumped at the "waste, fraud, and abuse" language.

          If you have that citation that says retaliation is an actual misdemeanor in your state, then you could always run the situation by your state Attorney General's office. Check their website, they likely have a number to call.

          Waste, fraud, and abuse with any taxpayer money, even not in healthcare is a serious issue. And nearly every statute I've seen on WF&A includes (sometimes mild, sometimes vigorous) whistleblower protections.

          Keep in mind, however, that being a whistleblower does not give you immunity to any disciplinary actions. If you indeed did what they wrote you up for, they have every right to write you up, and that's not retaliation. But if you make a whistleblower retaliation claim, the burden goes onto the employer to prove they wrote you up for a real reason and not in retaliation for your reporting actions. Employers can certainly write-up employees (even fire them) without evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" but when dealing with a documented whistleblower, they tend to, and should be, more careful about making sure they have SOME evidence for taking adverse actions against you, at least to protect themselves.

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          • #6
            A comment on your evaluation MAY affect your promotability, but it hasn't yet.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              It wasn't part of my evaluation, it was a written warning, reprimand, that stays in my personnel file.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by auntnana21 View Post
                It wasn't part of my evaluation, it was a written warning, reprimand, that stays in my personnel file.
                Same difference, legally.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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