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Former university dean awarded damages in whistleblower trial

Many university faculty members in Wisconsin and elsewhere are committed to both the students and the academic institution for which they work. This may create conflict if the faculty member feels that the university is deliberately misleading students. A jury just awarded a former dean at Globe University $400,000 in her whistleblower trial after she claims she was terminated because she voiced concerns about students being misled in regards to their job prospects.

The woman served as a dean for the school's medical assistant program until 2011. She alleges her in lawsuit that she was terminated from her position because she exposed the school for lying to prospective graduates about potential earnings and placement rates. Additionally, she claims that the university misled students regarding its accreditation status. 

The plaintiff filed her suit last year, though it is not reported what amount she sought in damages originally. A spokesperson for Globe University stated that school officials are unhappy with the verdict and intend to file an appeal. It is reported that another former dean from Globe University who was terminated at about the same time will begin her whistleblower lawsuit next year.

While her case was ultimately successful, the plaintiff likely felt very disillusioned by how she was treated by her former employer when she attempted to stick up for her students. This kind of treatment may discourage other employees from coming forward to report any wrongdoing on the part of their employers. However, Wisconsin has whistleblower laws that are meant to protect employees from wrongful termination and discrimination by their employers. Anyone who has suffered repercussions for whistleblowing may wish to examine the legal options available in our state so he or she can decide how best to proceed.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Fired Globe University dean Heidi Weber wins whistleblower trial," Jim Hammerand, Aug. 15, 2013

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