Wis. high court: Whistle-blower law doesn’t protect interns
Wisconsin’s law protecting healthcare workers who act as whistleblowers doesn’t apply to unpaid interns, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said last week.
The court said Asma Masri, a doctoral student dismissed from the Medical College of Wisconsin after making an ethics complaint, did not qualify as an employee because she was not paid and did not receive any benefits even though she worked 40 hours a week and had complete access to patient records.
Justice David Prosser referred to the state’s Labor and Industry Review Commission’s earlier decision in Masri’s case.
The commission’s “interpretation is reasonable, and there is no more reasonable interpretation,” Prosser wrote in the Supreme Court’s opinion. “Because Masri received no compensation or tangible benefits, she was not an employee of MCW and was there- fore not entitled to anti-retaliation protection” under the law.
Masri was a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2008 when she began a psychology internship at the medical school, which placed her in the transplant surgery unit at Froedtert Hospital. Masri said her internship abruptly ended after she told a college administrator that she had been ordered to create a “borderline personality” diagnosis to discredit a patient who might file a malpractice lawsuit.
The college claimed it ended the internship because of performance concerns.
A spokeswoman for the college said she did not have any information on how Masri’s allegations might have been addressed.