Employees who complain about the illegal or unethical practices of their employers often face the same fate: they're fired. Many so-called whistle-blowers accept their fate and move on with their lives. Occasionally, however, a whistle-blower will fight back against employer retaliation with striking results. In a recent California case, a woman who had been discharged for calling attention to her employer's questionable sales practices obtained a verdict of $20 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The woman, a veteran of 15 years in the time-share industry, was employed as a sales representative by the nation's largest time-share operator. In 2010, she complained to her superiors after she saw other sales representatives using fraudulent and misleading sales pitches in what was described at trial as a "Wild West sales environment." She was fired. She was unable to find work as a sales representative in any field, her engagement ended, and she started drinking heavily.
Determined to find vindication, the woman filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in 2012, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated. Testimony at trial supported the woman's claims of sales personnel using dishonest and unscrupulous sales tactics to meet their sales goals. The jury agreed, awarding her $20 million for lost income, emotional distress and punitive damages. The defendant may appeal, and the ultimate outcome of this case may not be known for months or even years.
Anyone who has been discharged for complaining about an employer's illegal conduct may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in wrongful termination cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for lost income and emotional distress.
Source: New York Times, "'My Soul Feels Taller': A Whistle-Blower's $20 Million Vindication," Gretchen Morgenson, Nov. 25, 2016