I’ve noticed in my practice a dangerous and burgeoning phenomenon. That is, the emergence of non-disparagement clauses for people who know the dangerous secrets of the worst of the worst long-term care facilities. I am finding that the vast majority of these clauses are found in assisted living facilities. These organizations appear to have very organized corporate structures and, upon the termination, retirement or resignation of high-level personnel, they sign legal separation agreements, which also include aggressively enforced non-disparagement language within them.
I first began to notice this phenomenon when I would take depositions and find that people who were fired under very questionable circumstances absolutely afraid to say anything negative about their former employer. It became apparent to me that they feared corporate retribution if they still worked in the healthcare facility and even worse with regard to whatever amounts of money they were paid upon their termination.
Finally, as I began to look more deeply into this, I got witnesses to agree that upon leaving either assisted living facilities, or at times, nursing homes, they would sign legal separation agreements which would not permit them to say anything at all negative about their former employer. With the exposure of these stifling contracts, the truth became self-evident.
Still, these are people are the guardians of our most frail and vulnerable citizens. These are people who know the secrets of poor facilities that could be remedied. These are people who can help folks like me who advocate for nursing home residents to hold wrong-doers accountable. It is a corporate philosophy that through the use of payoffs, chills the speech of the most important people who can shed light on the growing problem of corporate greed being placed over the welfare of nursing home residents.
As we have said in prior blogs, we have uncovered false employees in nursing homes being paid by taxpayer dollars. We have found exorbitant rent being paid by nursing home owners to themselves for the property they own, while complaining that Medicare and Medicaid dollars are not enough to take care of residents. They do this while paying off in full their investment properties multiple times over. Now, with this new corporate philosophy, the only people who can truly tell the truth are being silenced.
Former employees should know that there are laws in place to protect them from retribution for being honest. Also, there are powerful whistleblower laws empower people to get the truth out about fraud and abuse of our most vulnerable citizens. If in doubt about such agreements, people should obtain representation before signing and think long and hard before allowing their silence to be bought. Contact the Nursing Home Attorneys at Stark & Stark with any questions.