Frank LoMonte Comments on Restrictions on Health Care Workers Who Report Safety Issues to the Media
Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “Federal Speech Rulings May Embolden Health Care Workers to Call Out Safety Issues” published on the Kaiser Health News site on July 9.
The article focuses on Maine Coast Hospital’s decision to fire an employee for giving information to the news media about staffing shortages and patient safety issues without the direct involvement of the hospital’s media office.
On May 26, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision issued last year that the hospital violated federal labor law by firing an employee for engaging in protected “concerted activity.”
According to LoMonte, “The First Circuit opinion is noteworthy because it’s one of only a few such employee speech rulings under the National Labor Relations Act ever issued by a federal appellate court, and the first in nearly 20 years.”
The First Circuit and NLRB rulings should force hospitals to “pull out their handbook and make sure it doesn’t gag employees from speaking,” he said. “If you are fired for violating a ‘don’t talk to the media’ policy, you should be able to get your job back.”