By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When can an employee sue her employer if she gets injured on the job?
Nina Pham, a nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who contracted Ebola while treating a patient, sued the hospital’s parent company last month. She said that the hospital was negligent in training its employees, didn’t provide appropriate safety gear, and then gave her personal health information to the media despite her desire to maintain anonymity.
Sounds like bad behavior. But at least some of her complaints may never make it to trial.
Why? Because employees and employers are governed by workers compensation law which is a no fault system. That means that if an employee is hurt in the course of her employment, she is almost automatically entitled to payment for the injury. And in this case, Ms. Pham is actually still being paid by the health system. But, the flip side is that while employees are automatically entitled to payment without having to file a lawsuit, employers are protected from being sued by employees who are hurt on the job.
So, Ms. Pham can probably take up the claim that her health information was disclosed during her time as a patient, but she’ll have a much tougher fight proving that she should get to sue for her time as a nurse employee.