Peter Cassat, a partner in Culhane Meadows’ Washington, DC, office, was recently interviewed for an article by Healthcare Risk Management which discusses how to properly handle whistleblower complaints in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some excerpts from Peter’s interview:
Whistleblowers have complained publicly about the lack of adequate personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 response. These cases show the need for handling whistleblowers properly.
Handle Whistleblowers Carefully
Every whistleblower should be handled with kid gloves, regardless of the merit of their complaints, says Peter Cassat, JD, partner with Culhane Meadows in Washington, DC.
Employers are entitled to act when an employee’s actions are disruptive to the workplace, and when their actions prevent them from fulfilling their duties, Cassat says. But doing so requires a delicate touch, emphasizing that you are responding because of those concerns and not because you disagree with the employee’s opinion, he says.
“When it comes to someone speaking out about a lack of PPE during a pandemic, it’s easy to look like you are retaliating against the employee for revealing your shortcomings to the public, punishing him or her because they made the organization look bad,” Cassat says. “You may actually be on firm grounds for disciplining this person because they are disruptive or in violation of some legitimate policy, but you can be the one who looks bad in the public eye. A lot of this is more about public relations than employment law.”
The complete article can be found here.
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