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Michigan hospital merger embroiled in whistleblower lawsuit

A planned merger of the nonprofit Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan with for-profit Community Health Systems has resulted in a former Metropolitan employee launching a lawsuit for wrongful termination and whistleblower violations. According to the woman's lawsuit, she claims to have been fired for reporting that the health system's CEO intended to divert approximately $50 million from the sale of the hospital away from the nonprofit organization.

The sale of a nonprofit hospital to a for-profit hospital company requires a review by the Michigan Attorney General's office. Prior mergers that altered a nonprofit hospital into a publicly traded entity have set the standard that net proceeds from the sale go to the nonprofit's foundation. The woman suing Metropolitan alleges that the CEO dissolved the foundation so that the money gained from the merger could be diverted and kept within his control.

In her lawsuit, she said she complained about his unethical and illegal actions. Then she wrote letters describing her accusations against the CEO to the hospital board, the attorney general and police agencies. This resulted in her dismissal from her job. Her lawsuit is seeking damages for wrongful termination and violating her rights as a whistleblower.

An employee has a legal right to report wrongdoing and illegal actions by an employer. When an employer fires a person for reporting violations of laws or regulations, then it is regarded as retaliation. Someone who believes he or she lost a job because of retaliation could speak with an attorney about suing for lost income, damage to career or reinstatement. An attorney could assess the evidence to see if it might support a lawsuit.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Whistleblower Questions Hospital Sale," Molly Willms, April 6, 2015

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