Protecting Whistleblowers from Retaliation
Business professionals are ethically obligated to report illegal business activities to government investigators, but what happens to whistleblowers who cooperate? Without adequate regulations, whether the whistleblower continues on in an employment position could depend on the employer’s sense of fair play.
In a classic case of retaliation, two former managers at a South Florida credit union endured retaliatory dismissal after cooperating with investigators looking into CEO Maggie Martinez’s decisions to authorize risky loans to friends and family members. Both managers are seeking damages for defamation and discriminatory discharge. The facts of the case are as follows:
- Christine Redmond was the director of marketing and was fired after Martinez learned of her plans to disclose an incident involving a local doctor who advised the collections manager to “have Ms. Martinez make my loan payments.”
- Tanishal Harris-Darden was the operations manager and was fired after demanding to speak to the credit union’s board after the Martinez accused her of racism against Hispanics when granting loans.
Many state whistleblower statutes and federal qui tam statutes limit your time to file a lawsuit to 30 to 60 days from the date of the last retaliatory action, so don’t wait to call an attorney to discuss your case. You may need to know whether to file with the federal Department of Labor or the Florida Commission on Human Relations at the state level instead. You also need to know whether you are limited to an administrative court remedy or to a jury trial.
A wrongful termination attorney in Florida can advise you about your legal rights and options. If you were fired for revealing work-related secrets to regulators, consult with an experienced attorney right away.