Whistleblower wins wrongful termination lawsuit

New Jersey residents may know how hard it can sometimes be to do the right thing. In a group or company setting, everyone is expected to go with the flow and those who speak up often suffer retaliation. Such was the case with a laboratory researcher from the University of Virginia. He blew the whistle on his supervisor and reported that he made modifications to a contract without authorization. Shortly after, the researcher was let go from his job, in what he argued was a wrongful termination.

The whistleblower claimed that his supervisor falsely reported the amount of time researchers spent on a genetics project. The deceit resulted in increased funding for the project. The August 2011 lawsuit claims that only the researcher, as a principal investigator, was allowed to make modifications to the contract. When the researcher informed the department chair of the error, he was assured that the time would be corrected and that any money received due to the errors would be returned. The money was in fact returned May 9, 2011.

The researcher was eventually awarded over $800,000, which includes $500,000 in damages and the rest in back pay from his November 2009 termination. He may receive further compensation for court costs and future pay that he would have received if he were still employed at the University.

There are state and federal whistleblower protection laws in place to protect people who report acts of misconduct against their employers. It is against the law for an employer to fire a worker for reporting violations like this that occur at the workplace.

Source: The Cavalier Daily, " Whistleblower wins unfair contract termination suit," Jordan Bower, Oct. 17, 2012


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