A whistleblower lawsuit recently was filed by several people who previously worked at an exotic wildcat sanctuary. In this case in a neighboring state, the employees said they were terminated or pressured to resign after they brought word of illicit activities to the attention of the board of directors. Being disciplined by a company in Wisconsin for being a whistleblower is not lawful and is grounds for a civil claim against the employer.
The employees claimed that they had all received good reviews from the company and were still let go at the same time, proving that they were unlawfully retaliated against. The employees said that the company’s executive director was spending donated money on her own dogs and house. For instance, according to an attorney general report, the director was found to have spent the money on hair-removal items, lessons for skydiving, property taxes, propane, cell phone costs and even movies and underwear.
The employees also said the organization violated wage laws by not paying overtime and not maintaining accurate records regarding employees’ worked hours. Furthermore, the executive director and members of the board defamed the former employees in public, they alleged. In addition, the employees claimed that the executive director engaged in age discrimination during the company’s hiring process.
As part of the whistleblower lawsuit, the employees want a trial with a jury to take place. They are seeking to be compensated for lost wages and benefits as well as punitive damages and damages for having their characters defamed. Such remedies are possible in Wisconsin if there is proof that a company did retaliate against workers for speaking up about suspected law violations in our state.
Source: Star Tribune, “Fired employees file whistleblower suit against Wildcat Sanctuary“, Kevin Giles, May 6, 2014