When an Iowa employee exposes wrongdoing in the workplace, there is an expectation that there will be protection under whistleblower laws. Unfortunately, some workplaces will violate this law and simultaneously commit other workplace violations. Those who are attempting to report when there is gross mismanagement, financial improprieties and any other violation of law should be aware that they are shielded by whistleblower protection laws. They may also be able to file a lawsuit for other transgressions committed against them.
A lawsuit has been filed against a school district and the chief operating officer due to the plaintiff’s assertion that she was wrongfully terminated and there was a violation of laws protecting whistleblowers. She says that her resignation was forced after she reported that her superior was in violation of the law regarding district policies, committed financial mismanagement and abused his authority. She seeks compensation for back pay and because she has suffered fatigue, anxiety and emotional distress. She also is pursuing punitive damages.
In the past, the COO had been accused of violations by two others. They also said they were retaliated against and filed lawsuits. In this latest filing, the chief financial officer is also named as a defendant. The COO was investigated two years ago for various violations. The plaintiff in this latest case informed investigators of the violations she claims to have witnessed. Not long after, she was informed that reorganizations were taking place and her job duties were being given to an employee who was recently hired and did not have the same experience. She also received a poor performance review. She eventually resigned.
When there is wrongdoing in a workplace, a worker who is trying to ensure that there is adherence to the law can report what they believe is happening. They should be protected as a whistleblower. However, there is often motivation at a workplace to avoid being penalized and facing the consequences for the allegations. The whistleblower might be harassed, demoted or face other problems at work making it difficult to remain there. People who see legal violations in the workplace or face retaliation should be aware of their rights. A legal professional experienced in whistleblower issues can help.
Source: Des Moines Register, “Waukee schools face third wrongful termination lawsuit,” Kim Norvell, Jan. 16, 2018