Employees should not be asked to participate in activities that they believe to be illegal. Additionally, employees should feel an obligation to report violations of law that they believe to be occurring within their organization. If an employer chooses to punish them for their complaints, rather than investigate the employee's allegations, they expose themselves to serious penalties.
A punitive award in excess of $1.1 million has been reinstated against Walgreen's in a California based wrongful termination case. The plaintiff was a pharmacist for Walgreen's for many years and made multiple complaints to the company alleging Medicare fraud. He felt that other employees were billing Medicare for 30 days of prescriptions while only providing 10 days of medication to the patient. After making the company aware of these activities, he discovered that they were still occurring and the company had not acted on his claims. After brining up his concerns again, he was terminated by the company for working overtime even though he was warned not to. The man felt that the company fired him as a result of his complaints instead, and brought a wrongful termination action against the company.
Certain legal protections are afforded to individuals known as whistleblowers. A whistleblower is an employee that alerts their employer to violations of law occurring within the company. These employees are protected from any form of retaliation from their company as a result of their complaints. Typically, any person seeking whistleblower protections must establish that they made their complaints with a good faith belief that the organizations or its employees are violating a law. Additionally, they must not participate in the violations or assist in the investigation of the violations, as well as making their complaint to the company or an external agency.
Employees that are punished or retaliated against by their employer for making a good faith allegation may be able to receive compensation as a result. If they are terminated from their employment due to their complaints they may pursue a wrongful termination action. This action may assist them in retrieving economic compensation for the company's actions, as well as punish the organization for their deliberate retaliation activities.
Source: LawyersandSettlements.com, "$1.1M Punitive Award Against Walgreens for Firing Medicare Fraud Whistleblower," Dec. 30, 2014