When an employee works up the courage to come forward to report misconduct, their bravery is often rewarded with a series of retaliatory actions by their employer. Here, these actions can range from subtle harassment and reduced job duties to demotion and even termination.
Consider the experience of one Minnesota man previously employed as a regional sales representative for a battery company who was terminated from his position back in 2007 after reporting what he believed to be a major safety issue concerning U.S. army soldiers to the Department of Defense.
According to reports, the man learned from a company engineer and his own testing that the batteries being supplied to the U.S. Army to power the gun turrets on Humvees in the event the engine cut out had their lifespan effectively cut in half after a recent change in the manufacturing process.
“Worst-case scenario, if the troops in a Humvee were in a firefight … they may have only half the power the Army was promised, which could mean life or death,” he said.
Understandably concerned, the man raised the issue with his superiors and attempted to get them to notify the Department of Defense. After no action was taken for 14 months, he finally called the DOD himself to report the issue.
Several months later, he was terminated for what his employers deemed “insubordination.”
After losing his close to six figures per year income, the man struggled for six years to find steady full-time work and believed that he had effectively been blacklisted in the battery company industry.
Fortunately, vindication finally came earlier this week when he was awarded almost $1 million as part of the settlement reached by the battery company and its parent company with the federal government under the False Claims Act.
“It was never about the money,” he said. “It was about doing the right thing and protecting the people who protect us.”
It is worth noting that he has also filed a federal lawsuit concerning his termination that is scheduled to proceed next spring.
Cases like these go to show that people don’t have to feel as if they have no options if they been fired or otherwise mistreated because they had the courage to speak up about misconduct.
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and options under the law if you believe that you’ve been victimized by any form of whistleblower retaliation.
Source: The Star Tribune, “Fired Humvee whistleblower wins $990,000,” Randy Furst, Sept. 17, 2014