Image of What is whistleblower retaliation and how can a whistleblower retaliation lawyer remedy retaliation?

What is whistleblower retaliation and how can a whistleblower retaliation lawyer remedy retaliation?


Whistleblower Retaliation

Whistleblower retaliation laws prohibit a broad range of retaliatory actions against whistleblowers, including any act that would dissuade a worker from engaging in protected whistleblowing.  Examples of actionable whistleblower retaliation include:

  • Terminating a whistleblower;
  • Constructively discharging a whistleblower;
  • Demoting a whistleblower;
  • Suspending a whistleblower;
  • Harassing a whistleblower or subjecting the whistleblower to a hostile work environment;
  • Reassigning a whistleblower to a position with significantly different responsibilities;
  • Issuing a performance evaluation or performance improvement plan that supplies the necessary foundation for the eventual termination of the whistleblower’s employment, or a written warning or counseling session that is considered discipline by policy or practice and is routinely used as the first step in a progressive discipline policy;
  • Placing the whistleblower on administrative leave;
  • Threatening to take an adverse action against a whistleblower;
  • Subjecting a whistleblower to a retaliatory investigation or retaliatory surveillance;
  • Suing a whistleblower for the purpose of retaliating against the whistleblower;
  • Outing a whistleblower;
  • Intimidating a whistleblower;
  • Initiating a law enforcement investigation or facilitating an employee’s detention by U.S. ICE after the employee reported a serious injury;
  • denial or revocation of a remote work arrangement;
  • coercive questioning; or
  • Discriminating against a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of whistleblowing.

The DOL Administrative Review Board has emphasized that statutory language prohibiting discrimination “in any way” must be broadly construed and therefore a whistleblower need not prove that a retaliatory act had a tangible impact on an employee’s terms and conditions of employment.

If you have suffered retaliation for whistleblowing, contact our whistleblower retaliation lawyers today to schedule a confidential consultation.

How to Recover Damages for Whistleblower Retaliation

Whistleblower retaliation can derail a career and deprive the whistleblower of future earnings.  Whistleblowers should be rewarded for doing the right thing, but all too often they suffer retaliation and find themselves marginalized and ostracized.  Federal and state whistleblower protection laws provide remedies to compensate whistleblowers that have suffered retaliation, including:

  • back pay (lost wages and benefits);
  • emotional distress damages;
  • damages for reputational harm;
  • reinstatement or front pay in lieu thereof;
  • lost future earnings; and
  • punitive damages.

Every case is unique.  Contact an experienced whistleblower retaliation attorney to find out what damages you might be able to recover.

See our tips to get the maximum damages in whistleblower retaliation cases.

This table lists examples of jury verdicts in whistleblower retaliation cases.

Verdict or SettlementCase Name, Court, and YearClaim/StatuteSummary
$75MJacobs v. Las Vegas Sands Corp., A-10-627691-B (Nev.Dist.Ct. 2012)Wrongful terminationFormer CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, Steve Jacobs, was terminated for brining to light “improprieties” in the way the Macau business conducted its affairs.
$25M Babyak v. Cardiovascular Systems, Inc., Case No. BC601259 (Super. Ct. Cal. 2017)Whistleblower retaliation Cardiovascular Systems (NSDQ:CSII) was found liable for approximately $25.1 million in damages in a whistleblower retaliation suit involving a former regional sales manager, Steven Babyak. According to the court filings, Babyak alleged the company terminated him after he raised concerns about issues relating to patient safety and violations of state and federal laws. Babyak worked for the company for 3 years, and was fired on June 1, 2015.

On April 24, 2017, the jury awarded Babyak $2.7 in compensatory damages and an additional $22.4 million in punitive damages. Cardiovascular Systems' SEC filing disclosing the verdict be found here.
$20MWilliams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership., No. CGC-12-526187 (Cal.Super. Ct. 2016) Wrongful terminationSales representative, Trish Williams, was terminated after reporting that Wyndham salespeople were preying on older time-share owners to get them to increase their holdings and were falsely telling customers that Wyndham would buy back their ownership stakes if they no longer wanted them.
$13MDennis Bruke v. MGHWrongful terminationRetaliation for internal whistleblowing about double-booking of surgeons, which increased the amount of time patients spent under anesthesia and increased a patient's risk of complications.
$13MBrovont v. Overland Park Regional Medical CenterKansas whistleblower claim litigated in MissouriA jury found that Dr. Brovont was fired for raising concerns about inadequate ER staffing that he believed endangered patient safety.
$11.1MKingston v. IBMWashington wrongful discharge and retaliation claimsFederal jury found that IBM unlawfully fired sales manager who complained that race discrimination accounted for the significant difference between a Black salesman's commission and a White salesman's commission after both closed similar deals.
$10MPedowitz, M.D., v. The Regents of the University of California, et al., 2014 WL 1661270 (Cal.Super. 2014) California Whistleblower Protection AcDr. Robert Pedowitz, former chairman of UCLA’s orthopedic surgery department, was terminated after raising concerns about colleagues who had financial ties to medical-device makers or other companies that could unduly influence their care of patients or taint important medical research.
$9.4MDon Sanders v. BNSF Railway CompanyFRSA whistleblower retaliation claimA jury found that Sanders was retaliated against in violation of the FRSA after he reported hazardous safety conditions on the railroad and reported harassment and retaliation to BNSF’s HR Department.
$8.6MElliot Zibli and David Doors v. LAPDCalifornia retaliation claimRetaliation for reporting sexual harassment and abuse of authority. According to a Los Angeles Times article, they "suffered backlash so severe that they feared for their safety. They said they were denied tactical bloodhound training, and weren’t given adequate equipment and support during searches for violent suspects."
$8.4MDenise Bertone v. Los Angeles CountyCalifornia whistleblower retaliation claimBertone was forced into early retirement in retaliation for raising suspicions about the death of an 8-year-old disabled boy.
$8MBrian Gruzalski, Stanley Langevin and Mark Collins v FedExCalifornia retaliation claimA jury found that FedEx wrongfully disciplined three employees after coming forward to report that FedEx put profits ahead of safety by not maintaining its aircraft consistent with FAA safety requirements. Read more about it here.
$8MWadler v. Bio-Rad Labs., Inc., , No. 15-CV-02356-JCS (N.D. Cal. 2017) Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationBio-Rad Laboratories Inc. terminated Sanford Walder, the company’s GC of nearly 25 years, after he reported potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Bio-Rad claimed it terminated Walder’s employment due to poor work performance and behavior. However, it took a jury only three hours of deliberation to conclude that Bio-Rad retaliated against Walder for his disclosures.
$7.7MEasley v. N.J. Dept. of Corrections, et al., No. L-000094-13, complaint (N.J. Super. Ct., Burlington Co., Jan. 10, 2013)New Jersey Whistleblower Protection Law
Lisa Easley, a prison official at the Alfred C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility, was terminated after assisting the FBI with an investigation of a higher-ranking prison official who was soliciting bribes from employees. Easley's termination came just before she would have qualified for full retirement benefits. A jury awarded Easley $6.5 million in punitive damages, $1 million for emotional distress, and more than $265,000 in back pay as a result of the retaliation.
$7.4MJuarez v. RadioShack Corporation, JVR No. 1504140030, 2013 WL 10477609 (Cal.Super. 2013) California Whistleblower Protection ActRadioShack terminated former Store Manager, Jose Juarez, after he reported fraudulent, illegal and unethical practices taking place in the store.
$7MPeiter Zatko v. Twitterwhistleblower claimsTwitter Agreed to Pay Whistleblower Roughly $7 Million in June Settlement
$6MLaurie Simpson v. BayerFalse Claims Act retaliation claimSimpson alleged that she suffered retaliation for raising concerns about a series of unlawful acts, including paying kickbacks to doctors and hospitals, marketing them off-label, and downplaying their safety risks. Click here to view the settlement
$6MZulfer v. Playboy Enterprises Inc.,JVR No. 1405010041, 2014 WL 1891246 (C.D.Cal. 2014)Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationPlayboy terminated Zulfer shortly after she opposed paying bonuses to senior executives that were not authorized by the Board.
$5MMcQueary v. Pa. St. Univ., No. 2012-1804, (Ct. C.P. Centre County 2016)Wrongful terminationMcQueary was terminated by Penn State University as a result of his testimony against officials who failed to act on his February 2001 report of a sex abuse incident involving Jerry Sandusky.
$4.3MCrowley v. Watson, 2016 IL App (1st) 142847, 51 N.E.3d 69, 72, appeal denied, 50 N.E.3d 1139 (Ill. 2016)Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics ActA former school official at Chicago State University, James Crowley, was terminated after accusing the school’s former president of misconduct. A jury awarded Crowley more than $3 million in 2014 for the retaliation. The school avoided payment, which grew at 6% interest, while it appealed the verdict. In early 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision and ordered the university to pay Crowley $4.3 million.
$4.3MCarpenter v. Sandia Corp., 2007 WL 1108465 (N.M. Dist. 2007)New Mexico wrongful terminationSandia National Laboratories terminated Shawn Carpenter after he refused to comply with Sandia directives that he not disclose information “relating to serious breaches of national security to anyone inside or outside Sandia,” such as the FBI or the Army research lab.
$4MDunn v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company, 170 S.W.3d 1 (Mo. App. E.D. 2005)Missouri wrongful dischargeA jury found that Enterprise terminated Dunn's employment because he refused fused to comply with Enterprise's instructions to use improper accounting methods to prepare its financial statements for an IPO. The court founds that Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 "establish a clearly mandated public policy" requiring companies who seek to offer securities on a public stock exchange to provide full financial disclosures to inform and protect future investors.
$4MCerbone v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento, JVR No. 1505180066, 2015 WL 2394119 (Cal.Super. 2015)California Whistleblower Protection ActChristopher Cerbone, a former Physical Education Teacher and Head Varsity Football Coach, was terminated by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento after he discovered and reported sexual hazing scandal, which had been occurring among student athletes at the school.
$3.5MPayne v. District of Columbia, 773 F.Supp.2d 89 (D.D.C 2011)D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act Former city contracting officer, Eric W. Payne, claimed that he was terminated for refusing to cancel a contract and subsequently reporting the pressure to cancel the contract to two investigative agencies in the city government. The District of Columbia agreed to settle the whistleblower lawsuit for $3.53 million.
$3.5MBlakeslee v. Shaw Infrastructure Inc., JVR No. 1307080043, 2013 WL 3457020 (D.Alaska 2013)False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationShaw Infrastructure, Inc. terminated Paul Blakeslee after he wrote a letter to the company expressing concerns about another employee who was allegedly overcharging the government for work at military installations.
$3.3MRoundtree v. Los Angeles Unified School District, et al., JVR No. 1510130054, 2014 WL 10537455 (Cal.Super. 2015) California Whistleblower Protection ActArchie Roundtree, a certified Senior Aerospace Science Instructor, was terminated by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) after he raised concerns about the school’s practice of involuntarily enrolling students into ROTC classes violating federal law and the LAUSD contract. The court subsequently awarded $5.3M in attorney fees.
$3.2MBailets v. Pa. Turnpike Comm'n, No. 265 M.D. 2009, (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016)Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law Ralph Bailets, a manager for the Turnpike Commission, was terminated after exposing a substantial misuse and waste of Commonwealth funds and resources.
$3MCrawley v. Chicago State University, No. 10 L 12657 (Cook County, Ill., Law Div. 2014)Illinois wrongful terminationJames Crowley, a former Chicago State University employee, was fired in retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct by the university president and other top officials.
$2.85MChaudhry v. Florida Hospital Heart and Lung Transplant InstituteFlorida Whistleblower ActDr. Ahmed Chaudhry alleged that the Institute put its business considerations
$2.5MDanita Erickson v. BiogenFalse Claims Act whistleblower retaliationIn November 2019, Danita Erickson, a former sales representative at Biogen, prevailed at trial on her claims under the whistleblower protection provision of the False Claims Act and Title VII gender discrimination. Erickson alleged that Biogen terminated her employment in retaliation for her internal whistleblowing about the off-label promotion of Zinbryta for aplastic anemia (a use outside the FDA-approved labeling).
$2.5MBahra v. San Bernardino CountyCalifornia retaliation and wrongful discharge claimsSocial worker was fired in retaliation for disclosing systemic failures of management resulting in San Bernardino County placing foster children in the home of known abusers.
$2.5MRoganti v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 786 F.3d 201 (2d Cir. 2015)False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationRonald A. Roganti, former MetLife Financial Services Vice President, was terminated after protesting the company’s alleged failure to monitor the employment of registered representatives with tainted personnel histories and insisting on following regulations governing compensation to account executives.
$2.3MTommy Strelka v. Appalachian Power Co.Whistleblower retaliation and tortious interferenceRoanoke jury finds for ex-Appalachian Power employee who made safety complaints
$2.1MU.S. v. ManTech Int'l Corp., No. 1:16-cv-132 (E.D. Va. Sep. 14, 2016)False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationTwo employees were fired after raising concerns that ManTech had manipulated a contract to defraud the government.
$2.1MDoculan v. Bayonne Medical Center, No. HUD-L-6670-10 (Law Div. May 7, 2013)New Jersey wrongful terminationCeferino Doculan, Jr. was terminated by Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) after he made several complaints to hospital management, the HR department and the director of the laboratory department regarding unlawful staffing practices at BMC.
$2MHoeper v. City and County of San Francisco, No. CGC-15-543553 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2017)California Whistleblower Protection Act and False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationFormer deputy city attorney, Joanne Hoeper, was fired for exposing a long-running illegal payment scheme between municipal officials and plumbing companies.
$1.8MBecker v. Cmty. Health Sys., No. 2014-SOX-00044 (Nov. 9, 2016)Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliation Rockwood Clinic violated SOX by constructively discharging Gregg Becker, Rockwood’s CFO, for his refusal to lower his projection of the company’s losses by $8 million.
$1.7MWright v. Ada County, 160 Idaho 491, 376 P.3d 58 (2016).Whistleblower ActRichard Wright, former Public Information Officer of Ada County, was terminated by the Board of Commissioners for launching an investigation into one of his employees for harassment.
$1.7MPayne v. District of Columbia, et al., No. 2012-ca-6163 (DC Superior Court 2016)D.C. Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) ActEric Payne was terminated after complaining that then-Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and then-Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) sought to steer a $228 million lottery contract.
$1.7MParexel Int’l Corp. v. Feliciano, No. CIV.A. 04-CV-3798, 2008 WL 2704569 (E.D. Pa. July 3, 2008)Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationOswaldo Feliciano was terminated by Barnett International after reporting to superiors that the company’s marketing lists had been obtained by fraudulent means.
$1.7MU.S. v. Miami-Dade County & Miami-Dade Transit Authority, 25 Fla. J.V.R.A. 5:10, 2015 WL 3823100 (S.D.Fla. 2015) False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationMarjan M., a former executive-level employee of Miami Dade Transit (MDT), was terminated after reporting MDT’s fraudulent misapplication of grant funds received from the Federal Transit Administration.
$1.7MPietrowski v. The Kintock Group, JVR No. 1304230012, 2013 WL 1737877 (Pa.Com.Pl. 2013)New Jersey wrongful terminationMarla Pietrowski was terminated after she raised concerns about her manager’s drug activity and the fact that he apparently violated public policy when he brought his child to a facility where convicted child predators were assigned to report.
$1.6MVan Asdale v. Int’l Game Tech., 549 F. App’x 611, 614 (9th Cir. 2013)Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationProgenics Pharmaceuticals terminated Julio Perez after he raised concerns about the company issuing a significantly misleading press release about the progress of a new drug.
$1.5MErhart v. BofI Federal BankSarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and California Labor Code § 1102.5Mr. Erhart alleged that he was retaliated against and terminated after he reported wrongdoing at the bank to management and to federal regulators.
$1.5MEller v. State , No. 2017-6163 (Idaho 2017)Idaho Protection of Public Employees ActIdaho State Police retaliated against Brandon Eller, a detective in the police force, after he refused to go along with the police's explanation for a 2011 crash, in which a sheriff's deputy struck and killed a civilian. The jury awarded Eller $1.5 million in damages and $30,500 in lost wages.

$1.5MLillie v. Mantech Int l Corp., et alDefense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act and False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationJury found that Mantech terminated Mr. Lilllie for raising a concern that ManTech might not have permission to access certain files belonging to co-contractor Lockheed Martin. See
$1.5MBrig v. Port Auth. Trans Hudson, No. 12 CIV. 5371 RPP, 2014 WL 1318345 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2014)Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower retaliationJason Brig and John Buchala were retaliated against after reporting unsafe equipment and procedures, which almost resulted in both men being hit by a train. Instead of addressing the safety issues, the company charged both men with “unsafe work practices” and they lost a single day’s pay between them.
$1.4MCook v. Harrison Medical Center, No. 3:2013cv05986 – Document 88 (W.D. Wash. 2015)False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationHarrison Home Care terminated the former billing manager, Lori Cook, after reporting irregularities in Harrison’s billing, which could have Medicare fraud implications.
$1.2MBaldwin v. City of Atl. City, No. A-2858-12T2, 2015 WL 5009746 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Aug. 19, 2015)New Jersey wrongful terminationThe City of Atlantic City terminated its solicitor, Kimberly Baldwin, after she raised concerns about whether a tax attorney’s no-bid contract conflicted with pay-to-play restrictions.
$1.2MTownsend v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc., JVR No. 1302080012, 2012 WL 7069840 (E.D.Ark. 2012) False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationMike Townsend, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, was terminated by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc. reporting a doctor to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, for fraudulent Medicaid billing, and for participating in the investigation of the doctor.
$1.2MYoung v. Los Angeles City College,et al., 2011 WL 793028 (Cal.Superior 2011) California Whistleblower Protection ActSelwyn Young was terminated by Los Angeles City College after reporting the misuse of funds to the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District.
$1MBruce Casias v. RaytheonDefense Contractor Whistleblower Protection ActA Colorado jury awarded former Raytheon engineer Bruce Casias $43,000 in back pay and $1M in compensatory damages in a Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act (DCWPA) case.
$1MBrandon Fresquez v BNSF Railway CompanyFederal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower retaliationOn February 19th, 2019, a Colorado jury awarded Brandon Fresquez $1,050,000 in damages in his FRSA whistleblower retaliation claim against BNSF Railway Company.
$1MKelley vs. Merle Norman Cosmetics, 18 Trials Digest 16th 15, 2013 WL 1898806 (Cal.Super. 2013)California Whistleblower Protection ActMerle Norman Cosmetics retaliated against Stephanie Kelley, Director of Marketing, after she reported sexual harassment against herself and other women to the company and to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
$1MFarrell v. City of Los Angeles, JVR No. 1503020027, 2014 WL 7934105 (Cal.Super. 2015)California Whistleblower Protection ActPolice Officers and Supervisors, Loren Farell and Juan Baello were retaliated against by the City of Los Angeles after they reported what they reasonably believed to be criminal conduct or violations of state and/or federal statutes and regulations by detectives under their supervision.
$1MHumann v. City of Edmonds, No. C13-101 MJP, 2014 WL 7505838 (W.D.Wash. 2014)Washington wrongful terminationThe City of Edmonds and its Mayor Michael Cooper terminated former Human Resources Director, Debi Humann, after she disclosed to Cooper that she was cooperating with an investigation into his executive assistant, Kimberly Cole, and her substantially high salary, questionable time-sheet and her unaccounted payroll expenses.
$1MBarati v. Metro-N. R. Co., 939 F. Supp. 2d 153 (D. Conn. 2013)Federal Railroad Safety Act whistleblower retaliationMetro-North Railroad retaliated against Andrew Barati after he reported that he broke his big toe when a jack failed and a rail tie fell on his foot. After reporting the injury, the railroad presented him with a notice of firing. He then reportedly received a three-month suspension before he was hired back at Metro-North.
$1MSamuelson v. California Department of Mental Health, et. al., No. 26-57631 (N.D.Cal. Feb. 20, 2014).California Whistleblower Protection ActCalifornia Department of Mental Health terminated psychologist Melody Jo Samuelson after she raised concerns that the trial competency evaluation procedures did not comply with the applicable standard of care and violated statute.
$960,000Feliciano v. New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, et al., No. D-101-cv-2010-02008 (D.N.M. Jan. 18, 2013)New Mexico wrongful terminationNew Mexico Public Relation Commission terminated Aaron Feliciano, a former compliance director, after voicing concerns over his supervisors’ hiring of political contributors to investigate insurance cases resulting in slow, costly and ineffective investigations.
$903,000Trevor Murray v. UBSSarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationMurray alleged in his SOX complaint that UBS terminated his employment in 2012 for blowing the whistle on Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS) colleagues directing him to “preclear” drafts of his reports to ensure that the reports were favorable to UBS’ CMBS products and trading positions. Murray alleged that he complained about pressure to produce misleading reports and that UBS terminated his employment one month after his most recent complaint.
$900,000Perez v. City of Los Angeles, JVR No. 1506290047, 2014 WL 9966608 (Cal.Super. 2015)California Whistleblower Protection ActArmando Perez, a Police Lieutenant, was retaliated against by the City of Los Angeles after he reporting the findings of an audit concerning his division’s inventory of firearms, which discovered possible violations of federal, state or local laws regarding the sale of firearms to officers and civilians for profit.
$850,000United States ex rel. Jainniney v. Anmed Health, et al., 1:12-cv-2941 (N.D. Ga.)False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationLinda Jainniney, oncology manager at AnMed Health, was retaliated against after raising concerns that the hospital did not require that a radiation oncologist be present when supervising treatment of cancer patients. In addition to her retaliation claims, Ms. Jainniney received a $1.2 million award for exposing that the hospital defrauded the government by upcoding charges to Medicare and submitting fake service claims to Medicare.
$820,000Weihua Huang v. Rector & Visitors of Univ. of Virginia, 896 F. Supp. 2d 524, 529 (W.D. Va. 2012) False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationTwo University of Virginia administrators retaliated against Dr. Weihua Huang after he blew the whistle on purported misuse of a federal research grant.
$800,000Curren v. Denver Health & Hospital Authority, JVR No. 1402240026, 2012 WL 10424143 (D.Colo. 2012) False Claims Act whistleblower retaliationJoAnne Curren, an internal auditor, was terminated by Denver Health & Hospitality Authority (DHHA) after she reported DHHA’s fraudulent billing reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.
$760,000Zimmerman v. University of UtahUtah Whistleblower ActResearcher was terminated in retaliation for reporting research misconduct.

Judith Zimmerman, an assistant professor the psychiatry department at the University of Utah from 2005 to 2013, was granted $135,000 for emotional distress damages and $625,000 for the university’s breach of contract before June 30, 2013, according to the verdict form filed
$730,000Keyzer v. Regents of Univ. of California, et al., No. 34-2010-0079869 (Cal.Superior 2014) California Whistleblower Protection ActUC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research terminated Janet Keyzer, a former UC Davis administrative nurse, after she blew the whistle on an unethical pain management research project on prison inmates.
$725,000O’Haire v. City and County of San Francisco, JVR No. 1505200018, 2015 WL 2394121 (Cal.Super. 2015)California Whistleblower Protection ActKelly O’Haire, an Internal Affairs Attorney for the city and county’s police department, was terminated after pursuing a discipline case against the Police Chief Greg Suhr. The Police Chief had failed to immediately report a domestic violence incident involving his friend who was later charged with attempted murder.
$700,000Scott v. Lee Cnty. Sch. Bd., 2004 WL 6022536 (M.D.Fla.) Florida wrongful terminationElbert Ernest Scott was constructively discharged after raising issues to the Lee County School Board about problems with fire alarms, sprinkler systems, asbestos remediation and toxic mold in a number of local schools.
$700,000Jones v. SouthPeak Interactive Corp. of De., 986 F. Supp. 2d 680, 683-85 (E.D. Va. 2013) Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationSouthPeak terminated its CFO, Read Jones, after she disclosed accounting irregularities to the SEC.
$700,000Casto v. Berkeley Medical Center, No. 12-C-638 (N.D.W. Va. 2012) West Virginia wrongful terminationWendy Casto was fired in retaliation for raising patient safety complaints with hospital management.
$613,000Preston v. City of Oakland, JVR No. 1510220030, 2015 WL 6375782 (N.D.Cal. 2015) California Whistleblower Protection ActDaryelle Lawanna Preston was terminated by the City of Oakland after refusing to falsify a report or falsely testify about hiring practices, which if true, would have violated the city charter.
$600,000In the Matter of Paradigm Capital Management, Inc. and Candace King Weir, File No. 3-15930 (June 16, 2014)Dodd-FrankWhistleblower was retaliated against after notifying the SEC about Paradigm Capital Management Inc. and its principal engaging in trades without effective client disclosure and consent. This tip led the SEC to initiate an action against Paradigm, resulting in total penalties over $2M.
$560,000Flecker, III v.Statue Cruises L.L.C., JVR No. 1411110030, 2014 WL 5862082 (N.J.Super.L. 2014)New Jersey wrongful terminationNew Jersey wrongful termination Howard Flecker III acted as a class representative against Statute Cruises, L.L.C. regarding overtime pay. In retaliation, his schedule was changed and his hours were reduced from 40-50 hours per week to 35 hours.
$515,000Mantilla v. Apgar Brothers Trucking Company, JVR No. 1505220042, 2014 WL 8879646 (N.J.Super.L. 2014) New Jersey wrongful terminationFernando Mantilla, a full-time truck driver, was terminated by Apgar Brothers Trucking Company after raising concerns about having to drive in excess of the maximum number of hours allowed by the United States Department of Transportation, and under the federal motor carrier safety regulations.
$455,000Sergeant Duym v. Township of Millburn, JVR No. 1407220038, 2014 WL 3704210 (N.J.Super.L. 2014)New Jersey wrongful terminationSergeant Kenneth Duym, a firearms range master, was retaliated against after refusing to make an acceptation for a Police Captain who could no longer pass the duty weapon re-qualification test.
$250,000Rhinehimer v. Bancorp Investment, Inc., 2013 WL 9235343 (E.D.Ky. Dec. 27, 2013) Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliationA former financial planner at Bancorp Investments, Inc. was wrongfully terminated for disclosing trade unsuitability.

Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyers

The experienced whistleblower retaliation lawyers at Zuckerman Law represent whistleblowers in retaliation actions under a variety of federal and state whistleblower protection laws, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Call us today for a confidential consultation about your whistleblower retaliation case.  We can be reached at 202-262-8959 or by clicking here.

We have represented CEOs, CFOs, in-house counsel, partners at audit firms and other senior professionals in high-stakes whistleblower matters.  Click here to read reviews and testimonials from former clients, including corporate officers and executives.

U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have named Zuckerman Law a Tier 1 firm in Litigation – Labor and Employment in the Washington DC metropolitan area in the 2021 edition of “Best Law Firms.”

See our guide Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers:

SEC Whistleblower Retaliation Law

False Claims Act Whistleblower Retaliation Law

Tax Fraud IRS Whistleblower Retaliation  Law

Whistleblower Retaliation Resources

Protected Whistleblowing Under Whistleblower Retaliation Laws

Forms of Whistleblower Retaliation

Proving Whistleblower Retaliation

Whistleblower Retaliation Damages/Remedies

Whistleblower Rights and Whistleblower Retaliation Laws

False Claims Act Whistleblower Retaliation

False Claims Act Whistleblower Protection Law

Actionable Retaliation Outside the Workplace

In addition, some forms of post-employment retaliation and retaliation outside the workplace can constitute actionable retaliation.  The EEOC’s 2016 Enforcement Guidance states:

Additional Examples. Other examples of materially adverse actions may include:

      • disparaging the person to others or in the media;[120]
      • making false reports to government authorities;[121]
      • filing a civil action;[122]
      • threatening reassignment;
      • scrutinizing work or attendance more closely than that of other employees, without justification;
      • removal of supervisory responsibilities;[123]
      • abusive verbal or physical behavior that is reasonably likely to deter protected activity, even if it is not sufficiently “severe or pervasive” to create a hostile work environment;
      • requiring re-verification of work status, making threats of deportation, or initiating other action with immigration authorities because of protected activity;[124]
      • terminating a union grievance process or other action to block access to otherwise available remedial mechanisms;[125]
      • taking (or threatening to take) a materially adverse action against a close family member (who could bring a claim as an aggrieved individual in addition to the person who engaged in protected activity);[126] and
      • any other action that might well deter reasonable individuals from engaging in protected activity.[127]

A fact-driven analysis applies to determine if the challenged employer action(s) in question would be likely to deter participation or opposition. To the extent some lower courts applying Burlington Northern have found that some of the above-listed actions can never be significant enough to deter protected activity, the Commission concludes that such a categorical view is contrary to the context-specific analysis, broad reasoning, and specific examples endorsed by the Supreme Court.

Matters are not actionable as retaliation if they are not likely to dissuade an employee from engaging in protected activity in the circumstances. For example, courts have concluded on the facts of given cases that a temporary transfer from an office to a cubicle consistent with office policy was not a materially adverse action[128] and that occasional brief delays by an employer in issuing refund checks to an employee that involved small amounts of money were not materially adverse.[129] Such actions were not deemed likely to deter protected activity, as distinguished from the transfer to harder work, the exclusion from a weekly training lunch, or the unfavorable schedule change described by the Supreme Court in Burlington Northern as materially adverse.

If the employer’s action would be reasonably likely to deter protected activity, it can be challenged as retaliation even if it falls short of its goal.[130] The degree of harm suffered by the individual “goes to the issue of damages, not liability.”[131] Regardless of the degree or quality of harm to the particular complainant, retaliation harms the public interest by deterring others from filing charges.[132] An interpretation of Title VII that permits some forms of retaliation to go unpunished would undermine the effectiveness of the EEO statutes and conflict with the language and purpose of the anti-retaliation provisions.

Determining whether an action is reasonably likely to deter protected activity under Burlington Northern is fact-dependent.

This guidance and the cases cited therein can be persuasive authority in whistleblower retaliation cases.

Examples of Retaliation

  • Reassigning sales territory can be actionable retaliation. Bray v. Community Newspaper Co., 67 Mass. App. 42, 44 (2006) (frequent reassignments of sales territory, making it difficult for plaintiff to generate sales)  Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 743-44 (7th Cir. 1999) (company segregated sales staff by race, resulting in white employees receiving better accounts and extra perquisites); U.S. ex rel. Herman v. Coloplast Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 30047 (D. Mass.), at 16 (assignment to smaller accounts with less growth potential); Lestage v. Coloplast Corp., 2020 U.S. App. Lexis 38366 (1st Cir.), at 20.
  • “[S]everal courts have found the denial or revocation of a remote work arrangement to constitute an adverse employment action based on an employee’s circumstances. See, e.g., Robinson v. Ergo Sols., LLC, 257 F. Supp. 3d 47, 52-54 (D.D.C. 2017) (finding a question of fact as to whether ending an employee’s telework arrangement after 15 years would dissuade a reasonable employee from engaging in a protected activity); Vasquez v. Johnson, No. 3:11-cv-3412-L, 2014 WL 2438380, at *8 (N.D. Tex. May 30, 2014) (denial of request to work from home constituted an adverse employment action); Yeager v. UPMC Horizon, 698 F. Supp. 2d 523, 545-46 (W.D. Penn. 2010) (holding “it is a question of fact for the jury to determine whether, a reasonable employee would find that being prohibited from working from home … was materially adverse” where plaintiff was a single parent taking classes towards her master’s degree.”  Kapp v. United Technologies Corporation, 2019 WL 13225064 (N.D.Ga., Oct. 30, 2019).
  • “Questioning employees – even about concerted activity protected by Section 7 of the Act – is not per se unlawful, but it will “rise to the level” of a Section 8(a)(1) violation “if it is coercive in nature.” Intertape Polymer Corp. v. NLRB, 801 F.3d 224, 230–31 (4th Cir. 2015). And conduct is coercive for purposes of Section 8(a)(1) if it “can have a deterrent effect on protected activity” – that is, if it might “chill[]” the exercise of Section 7 rights. Medeco Sec. Locks, Inc. v. NLRB, 142 F.3d 733, 745–46 (4th Cir. 1998).  NLRB v. Pain Relief Centers P.A., No. 22-1366 (4th Cir. 2023)

As discussed in a Harvard Business Review article titled Does Your Company Have a Culture of Quiet Retaliation?, “[q]uiet forms of retaliation are incredibly common and can be contagious in the workplace.”  While each subtle retaliatory act might not give rise to a retaliation claim, those actions in the aggregate can constitute a hostile work environment and give rise to a claim.

Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.