In Rhode Island, whistleblowers who report illegal activities at their place of employment assume the risk of retaliation. However, these employees have legal recourse for protection. Some whistleblowers have been awarded multimillion-dollar jury awards due to the illegal treatment they received.
While whistleblowers face significant risks in speaking up, their actions can trigger essential changes and improvements in corporate behavior. The following cases offer a glimpse into how whistleblowers play an important role in uncovering unethical or illegal behavior and help promote accountability and transparency in the workplace.
City of Boston
In 2015, a jury awarded Chantal Charles total damages of $10.9 million in response to a lawsuit she filed against her employer, the city of Boston, for racial discrimination and retaliation. Charles filed a formal discrimination complaint due to several types of discriminatory treatment by her boss. After filing the complaint, she received less-favorable performance evaluations.
Delhi Mental Health Rehab Center
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the Delhi Mental Health Rehab Center in two separate whistleblower cases.
One pertained to a supervisor at the Center who subjected female employees to sexual harassment for over five years. The second case was regarding the male employee who spoke out about the harassment of his female coworkers. The male employee was fired in retaliation and ultimately settled with the Center for $25,000.
Fracking equipment company
The EEOC filed a federal lawsuit against Downhole Technology in Texas because the company retaliated against an employee who reported racial harassment by his coworkers. The whistleblower employee said that his coworkers used a white hood, similar to those used by the Ku Klux Klan, to intimidate and harass him. The employee was reprimanded and later fired upon reporting the behavior to his employer.
The lawsuit asked the court to permanently prohibit the company from future discrimination or employer retaliation, in addition to seeking lost wages and benefits, along with punitive and compensatory damages, for the employee.
Jasper Roofing Contractors
The U.S. Department of Labor sued Jasper Roofing Contractors, Inc. for firing its safety manager. The firing occurred after the manager cooperated with an inspection performed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and allegedly tried to improve the company’s safety culture.
Whistleblowers risk retaliation by their employers for reporting illegal activities, but they may have legal recourse.