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Ask wallstreetfighter Your Own Question
wallstreetfighter, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17252
Experience:  14 years exp, General counsel for National Corp. firms, Hostos College instructor, Represented employees in discrimination lawsuits
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Well, here is one you may not have heard. I am a dental hygienist

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Well, here is one you may not have heard. I am a dental hygienist (35 years) who had been employed at an office for 13 years. Today, I was terminated for refusing to violate HIPAA! My employer has never done the required HIPAA training, but I have pretty good knowledge of it from my second job and CE courses. I was told the front desk and doctor handle HIPAA, and it was not my job. I was berated for asking a 19 year old if it was ok to bring her mother into the room, and told that the office policy said it was not my job to ask. (The patient said "no", but the doctor brought her in anyway.) I refused to say that I would go by the "office policy" instead of HIPAA, and was then told that I was going to be fired if I did not agree to leave HIPAA to them. I told them I would not violate the law, and that I was responsible to adhere to HIPAA guidelines. I had a feeling this was going to end up this way, since I refuse to do anything illegal, so I recorded the conversation in which my boss told me to agree to his policy or be fired. Don't know where to turn.

wallstreetfighter : Hello I am a licensed attorney here to help you with your question, please review my response and do not hesitate to ask for clarification
wallstreetfighter : This is an unfortunate situation,
wallstreetfighter : what you can do is file a HIPPA complaint against the employer and advise them of the issue,
wallstreetfighter : also, you can send a letter to the State Licensing authorty and file a grievance against him as well,
wallstreetfighter : HIPAA authorizes whistleblowers to divulge most of such information to private attorneys or the federal government. 45 CFR sec. 164.502(j)(1) provides that an employee may disclose such individually identifiable information if the “workforce member or business associate [employee]”… believes in good faith that the covered entity has engaged in conductthat is unlawful or otherwise violates professional or clinical standards,or that the care, services, or conditions provided by the covered entity potentially endangers one or more patients, workers, or the public; and(ii) The disclosure is to:(A) A health oversight agency or public health authority authorized by lawto investigate or otherwise oversee the relevant conduct or conditions of the covered entity or to an appropriate health care accreditation organization for the purpose of reporting the allegation of failure to meet professional standards or misconduct by the covered entity; or(B) An attorney retained by or on behalf of the workforce member or business associate for the purpose of determining the legal options of the workforce member or business associate with regard to the conduct described in paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section.
wallstreetfighter : So you can sue the employer for the retaliation and if it is found the employer violated HIPPA rules,
wallstreetfighter : you could be awarded damages,
wallstreetfighter : Under the law,
wallstreetfighter : If an employee reports anything, even to his or her own employer, that the employee “reasonably believes” is a violation of the Title I section of the Bill, then that employee is a whistleblower — and thus part of a protected class.
wallstreetfighter : So a termination would be a violation of the law, and you can pursue a lawsuit.
Customer: Yes, I thought I would need to do both, but am, of course, most concerned with losing my job for refusing to break the law. I have clear recorded conversation, for what it is worth. Would I seek a attorney that deals more with labor issues, or HIPAA?
wallstreetfighter : I would discuss the matter with a local HIPPA or employment attorney, he may write a letter to the employer advising him of the HIPPA rules about retaliation,
wallstreetfighter : and that could settle the matter,
wallstreetfighter : if the employer does retaliate you, then a lawsuit should be considered, as you do have whistleblower protection,
Customer: Thank you very much. I will do that. Never had any legal dealings before. Hard to know where to start.
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