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Sterling Employment Law

Whistleblower case spotlights Michigan nurses’ concerns

Justin Howe says he has absolutely “no regrets.”

Howe’s comment comes via his status as a recently fired Michigan nurse long employed at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon.

Officials from Trinity Health and Mercy Health Partners (the corporate entities that control and manage the hospital) term Howe a troublesome and disgruntled worker. They say he violated privacy rules by improperly scrutinizing patients’ files.

Nurses across the state say otherwise. In fact, they laud Howe for coming forward and spotlighting outsized and unaddressed work dangers faced by Michigan’s frontline medical personnel. COVID-19 has sickened thousands of health care workers across the state. Reportedly, more than a dozen nurses have died from coronavirus-linked complications.

“This is insulting to RNs,” says one nurse commenting on Howe’s termination. She says hospital officials have chosen to “frighten nurses into silence” instead of working with them to address occupational risks.

Howe comes across as an empowered advocate rather than a powerless victim. He says he is proud to have alerted the public about industry health concerns that presently imperil Michigan’s nurses and the individuals they care for during the pandemic.

“Our patients cannot be kept safe if nurses are silenced,” he says.

Howe is a former U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He worked at Hackley Hospital’s intensive care unit and served as an official with the Michigan Nurses Association. The lawsuit he filed in a state court last week alleged a violation of Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act.

Questions or concerns regarding whistleblowing actions and employer retaliation can be directed to experienced employment attorneys who diligently safeguard employees’ workplace rights.

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