Whistleblower is a term most often used to describe a person that reports or “blows the whistle” on inappropriate or illegal activity in the workplace. In California and across the country, there are whistleblower laws that offer protection for these employees. However, some employers will ignore these laws and punish the whistleblowing workers in retaliation.
A former researcher in another state was allegedly fired for reporting safety violations, and she has taken legal action in the form of a lawsuit against her former employer. The woman worked as an associate lab director at a college in another state and claims she learned that a monkey infected with a special agent was allowed to escape for several hours. Allegedly, she reported the incident, but her superiors shrugged it off as an accident rather than a violation.
The lawsuit says the plaintiff also reported another similar violation that had occurred a year earlier, involving an escaped rabbit that had also been infected. The woman claims that both times she was instructed not to report the incidents to disease control agencies. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was retaliated against and received write-ups that singled her out, was suspended by a supervisor and eventually fired. The plaintiff is seeking back pay and damages for emotional distress.
When workers witness violations or other inappropriate activity on the job, they have a right speak up and report these things. Workers in California that have experienced retaliation for blowing the whistle on illegal acts in the workplace may have the right to pursue legal action. A successful lawsuit could result in compensation to help with lost wages as well as the damaging emotional and psychological effects that are common with an experience of this nature.
Source: pittnews.com, “Researcher sues Pitt for wrongful termination following alleged monkey escape“, Salina Pressimone, John Hamilton, Jan. 30, 2018