People who choose to speak up about the wrongs they witness at work can get a wide range of nicknames. Sometimes, they’re called snoops, and other times, they’re labeled as snitches or traitors. However, if a whistleblower voices concerns about unfair and illegal practices that can cause harm, his or her efforts may be looked upon positively by others. It is illegal to mistreat workers who have chosen to be whistleblowers in Wisconsin.
In an out-of-state case, a woman recently was fired for whistleblowing. The woman, who was the leader of a state ethics commission, was promoting the need to investigate the state governor’s campaign expenditures. After calling for this investigation of the individual’s financial disclosures and reports, her salary was trimmed significantly, she said.
The ethics commission claimed that her salary cut really was the result of budget cuts. The woman ended up losing her job and filed a suit against her employer. A jury awarded her $700,000 in damages in light of the situation. The trial lasted one week, but the jury took only a few hours to reach its decision.
People, understandably, object to being punished for doing the right thing. This is why protections are in place for a person who opts to become a whistleblower. A person who is retaliated against for whistleblowing — by being demoted or fired, for example — may file a claim against the offending parties, including an employer. Monetary relief for damages certainly may result from this type of case if it is successfully presented in a Wisconsin civil courtroom.
Source: 13wmaz.com, “Jury awards whistleblower $700K in state ethics trial“, , April 5, 2014