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Whistleblowing turns ugly after boss retaliates

A heated legal dispute in New Jersey last month could be catching the attention of workers here in Indiana this month. The dispute centers around two whistleblowers who claim that their boss retaliated against them after they alerted an auditor and the FBI to a suspicious bank deal being made by their employer. The case certainly highlights the importance of whistleblower laws and how they play into retaliation claims.

Problems began for the two whistleblowers back in 2010 when one of the men in the case discovered that his boss, the chairman for the Brick Township Municipal Utility Authority, was going through financial difficulties. After learning about the loan deal his boss intended to sign with a local bank, the man and the other whistleblower felt it conflicted with laws that discourage public officials from involving themselves in corruption. It’s at this point that they brought their concerns to the attention of BMUA’s auditor

Problems began for the two whistleblowers back in 2010 when one of the men in the case discovered that his boss, the chairman for the Brick Township Municipal Utility Authority, was going through financial difficulties. After learning about the loan deal his boss intended to sign with a local bank, the man and the other whistleblower felt it conflicted with laws that discourage public officials from involving themselves in corruption. It’s at this point that they brought their concerns to the attention of BMUA’s auditor.

After learning of the complaint to the auditor, the boss allegedly began harassing the men, at one point threatening to seek harm on one of the men, according to the complaint. In 2011, the men took their complaint to the FBI after their boss had secured his loan in what the men felt was a fraudulent manner. Harassment against the men continued until one of the men was wrongfully terminated in 2012. He claims that he suffered retaliation in the form of false accusations that caused him to undergo an investigation prior to his firing. The other man, who was not fired, claims that he was also retaliation against, having his yearly stipend eliminated without proper notice.

The two men are currently seeking compensatory and punitive damages for retaliation, back pay and reinstatement. It’s unknown when the men will be able to argue their case in court at this time.

Source: Courthouse News, "Utility Men Say Whistle-Blowing Cost Them," Iulia Filip, June 25, 2013

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