As some Minnesota residents may know, speaking out about an employer's illegal or unethical behavior is protected under the law. The employer may not retaliate against the employee due to his or her disclosure. A whistleblower lawsuit may be filed against a former employer if this right to speak out is threatened.
Wisconsin employees may be interested in some information about a new final whistle-blower rule passed by the federal government. This final rule has been years in the making, but continues the policies in effect for a while.
Employees in Wisconsin may have heard that on March 2, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would be issuing the first whistle-blower payout to a former company officer. The individual received a payout that ranges from $475,000 to $575,000 for becoming a whistle-blower. This particular case also involved an exception to the standard rules that define whistle-blower laws.
Wisconsin readers who follow workplace issues may be interested in a recent decision regarding retaliation against a whistleblower. A U.S. Postal Service worker will receive nearly $230,000 in damages for retaliation that he suffered after advising a co-worker to report health concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The worker filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA after being subjected to a hostile work environment.
As some Wisconsin workers have found, employees who see and report unsafe conditions or activities might find that negative actions have been taken against them by an employer. If this happens, the employee may have the ability to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Wisconsin workers employed in the food industry may be interested in the protection they have under federal law if they should bring an issue of concern forward. Those who are engaged in the processing, packing, distribution or holding of food, among other activities, are protected from retaliation if they highlight a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
A former Baltimore Police Department detective filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the department, the former police commissioner and his supervisor on Dec. 22 in federal court in Baltimore. The detective, who reported an assault on a drug suspect by two fellow officers to the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office in 2012, alleges that his fellow officers began a pattern of harassment, threats and retaliation against him when he agreed to testify against the two officers at their subsequent trial.
People in Wisconsin may be interested in the outcome of the huge Bank of America and Countrywide whistle-blower case that was settled in August 2014. According to unsealed court documents, three individual whistle-blowers and one small New Jersey mortgage company were awarded $170 million as part of Bank of America's $17 billion settlement in relation to the case. The man who initially blew the case open, a former property appraisal company employee, will receive $56 million, while a former Countrywide executive will receive $58 million. A former Countrywide manager will receive $48 million, and the mortgage company will receive $8.5 million.
The law typically protects state employees from retaliation when they report illegal or unsafe activities. These activities include violating the law, endangering the public, abuse of authority at the state or local level or wasting public funds.
Wisconsin residents might be interested to learn about a settlement that was reached in a false country of origin lawsuit involving medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew. On Sept. 3, the London-based company agreed to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. government by paying $11.3 million in damages. In 2008, the company was accused of selling Malaysian-made orthopedic devices to the Department of Veterans Affairs and falsely claiming they were made in the United States.