District violates whistleblower act, must pay nearly $1 million

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2014 | Whistle-blower Claims

Being a “tattletale” on the playground as a child may cause the young person to be ridiculed by his or her peers. Being a “tattletale” in the workplace as an adult may cause a person to experience more than just ridicule — it could get the individual fired. Still, protections are in place for a person who ends up being a whistleblower in Wisconsin because public safety is considered more important than a company’s bottom line. One female whistleblower recently received more than $1 million after she was reportedly wronged by her employer in one out-of-state case.

The woman was an administrator for a school district, which terminated her in 2011. The situation occurred when the district charged that she did not appropriately use nearly $90,000 in taxpayer dollars, partly to fund an affair with a retired superintendent. The district ended up terminating her; she claimed that the move really was intended to deter her from testifying in a suit filed by another school district over a telecommunications program that she led.

The woman alleged that the school district essentially breached her contract by terminating and also violated the Whistleblower Protection Act. She was able to avoid criminal charges stemming from the district’s allegations, and the jury ruled in her favor in her civil lawsuit. She was awarded nearly $1 million for the school district’s violations.

Employers legally are not allowed to demote or terminate a person who has chosen to be a whistleblower. In addition, they cannot treat one employee differently from another one on the basis of areas such as sex, age or race. If evidence exists that a company has discriminated against workers in this way, these individuals might choose to file claims against the employer. Reinstatement in a job is one of several remedies available in this type of discrimination situation in Wisconsin.

Source: mlive.com, Attorney: Jury’s $1 million verdict vindicates embattled ex-GISD administrator, Gary Ridley, March 12, 2014

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