We get asked repeatedly, what can I do legally to protect myself? This is probably the question that we get asked the most. Well today, we finally have some more solid information!
Since we have started the #ShowMeYourMask campaign, we have received criticism, which we expected. There are those who want to argue, name call, use profanity, and not look at the truth of what we are facing- forced medical treatment in order to keep our jobs so that our employers can get a financial bonus.
One of the other questions that we have been asked is “Can I ask for an unvaccinated nurse?” or “Now that I know the nurses with masks are unvaccinated, can I ask for one of them?”
Of course along with that, we are getting people making claims that they will discriminate against these nurses and heatlhcare workers who have had their privacy violated, and request that they not be allowed to work with them or their families. We hope, and pray that this happens. Why you may ask? Because this is setting a perfect storm for a privacy violation and a discrimination lawsuit. The second that a patient asks this, and is granted this request, the HCP that is removed from caring for them now has a potential to make a huge change and set a precedent.
Two things to consider: 1.) this is no different than someone telling a hospital that they won’t work with an African American nurse, or they won’t work with someone of another sex than them. 2.) The privacy of the employee has been exposed to this patient, which is an HR violation, plain and simple. This patient now knows that, for whatever reason, this employee has not been vaccinated, and is using that to discriminate against them. This healthcare worker may have a legitimate medical or religious reason for not being vaccinated- but no matter!
If this happens to you, you need to do several things. First, document everything. Please be gracious, but also document everything. Including the patient that put in this request, because they WILL be held liable for their illegal actions. Document the supervisor that asked you to step aside, the patient that put in the request, and the situation surrounding this. Secondly, and don’t wait for this, file an EEOC complaint IMMEDIATELY for discrimination purposes. Be sure to document in your EEOC complaint the religious or medical reason for your declination of the vaccine! Third, find an employment lawyer. Find one who specializes in discrimination complaints. Put them on standby, and let them know that this will be a landmark case, and there will be thousands of us waiting to line up and hire them.
On top of this, you can very likely sue the patient in civil court for discrimination, pain and suffering, and a host of other civil terms in order to recoup some financial loss, and to embarrass this patient publicly for their blatant ignorance and discriminatory practice. The recommendation would be to contact every single news media in your area and let them know what this person did. (Without violating HIPAA, of course.)
Here are just a couple of stories where HCP have sued for discrimination:
So patients, and hospitals, are you listening? Do you really want to continue with this discriminatory practice? Keep it up, and it might just cost you all of that 2% bonus you are expecting next year.
Lastly, and this one is a bit more controversial, but we want to throw it out there, is that we may have a federal lawsuit on our hands. Because the hospital value-based purchasing program falls under the ACA, we believe that we may be able to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the portion of the HVBP that tracks employee influenza vaccination rates. This would take a long time, and it would cost a LOT of money, but the chance is there to potentially file this lawsuit. We are still exploring how this might work, if we can find a lawyer, and how to best approach it, but the idea that employees are tracked under this system, and that many of them are not even aware of it, is frightening at best. There is no need to track this. The only reason to track this, that we can see, is to provide this information to Big Pharma so that they can continue their assault on those who are pro-choice.
So here is your legal update for today. We may look at starting a fundraiser down the road on a federal lawsuit, but for now the idea is out there that it can be done, and it may just work!