Articles Posted in Whistleblower Retaliation

You may have never heard of the word pretext. It is one of those legal jargon words that employees and everyday people don’t use. What does pretext mean? Pretext is legally defined as a reason for an action which is false, and offered to cover up true motives or intentions. For instance, “My boss lied about why I was fired;” or even, “my employer blamed my demotion on poor performance that I was unaware of.”

When an employer lies about the reason an employee was fired, terminated or otherwise retaliated against, it does not necessarily create a claim, but it does give you reason to ask our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton to look into it. In order to show that the employer’s reason is a pretext it must be demonstrated that the their explanation is not credible. One thing to note is that a simple mistake made by the employer is not a pretext, rather a pretext is a bogus, phony excuse used to cover up the real illegal reason.

An employer will usually not tell an employee they are firing the for an illegal reason. They will make up an arbitrary reason for termination, and the illegal reason will have to be proved through circumstantial evidence. Even though an employer may provide a pretext that seems valid on paper, this does not mean the employee does not have a case.

Continue reading

A former employee is suing an Orlando company, citing alleged retaliation and wrongful termination, after he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 1, in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Orange County. He alleged that the company subjected him to adverse employment actions.

According to his accounts, on Jan. 17 he was injured while in the course and scope of his employment working for the defendant. He was terminated on or about July 1.

He has suffered emotional distress, lost wages and benefits, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses, according to the complaint. He holds the company responsible because the defendant allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

An employer is strictly prohibited by law from discriminating against an employee because of a workplace injury. Workplace accidents can cause an employee to suffer substantial injuries that may result in them being unable to return to work for an extended period of time or unable to perform the same duties that they did before the injury occurred.

Continue reading

A former supervisor in Adam Putnam’s Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sued the agency in 2013, claiming “gross misconduct” in the handling of gun permit applications. The woman also claims that quotas for approving concealed weapon permits “guaranteed abuse,” according to reports.

In a whistle-blower lawsuit filed in a Leon County circuit court, the former chief of the Bureau of License Issuance, said she was threatened with retaliation for saying workers were deficient in processing licensing applications, and that her bosses told her she “worked for the NRA (National Rifle Association).”

The agency denied most of the woman’s allegations in court filings. But in a settlement signed in 2016, the agency agreed to pay $30,000, without admitting wrongdoing, including a $10,000 lump sum payment to the woman and $20,000 for her attorney’s fees and costs.

The False Claims Act allows a person or organization to bring a lawsuit against a government company that receives public funds after they have witnessed an act of fraud against the government. Taking legal action like this is called qui tam and the plaintiffs are known as whistleblowers, hence the name whistleblower suit.

Whistleblower suits often involve illegal kickbacks, Medicare fraud, FDA regulation violations, financial fraud claims involving the Dodd-Frank Act, and claims that fall under the IRS whistleblower reward program. A whistleblower can be awarded between 15 and 30 percent of the overall recovery of a successful qui tam lawsuit. This amount can add up to millions of dollars.

Continue reading

A Fort Lauderdale employer is being sued over allegations of unpaid overtime wages and retaliation for reporting the unpaid wages as well as discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation for complaints about such behavior.

The claim alleges that the company was negligent in paying wages for overtime and created a hostile work environment. A former employee is requesting the company pay damages.

The former employee is a “Hispanic (Cuban Black) male and is a member of” a protected class under the U.S. Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act.

He was employed by the company from October 10, 2014, until July 23 and during his employment was responsible for “maintaining and monitoring inventory, distributing parts, and billing customers,” according to the complaint.

After he was promoted to operations coordinator, a white man was promoted to branch manager. This is when the man claims his hours were cut by the manager, a practice that was not inflicted on nonblack or non hispanic employees. He claims he was treated differently than other employees, and that the manager let other employees make racist comments.

The former employee said he made complaints to the Human Resources department but no changes were made. He alleges that the company tampered with his timecard and failed to pay him overtime wages.

After the man complained to Human Resources, he claims his manager terminated him.

The man is requesting a trial by jury and damages of unpaid wages and court costs.

When racial discrimination costs you your job or leads to you being demoted, you need to take a legal stance and fight for justice. Sadly, race discrimination in the workplace continues to be an unpleasant reality for many workers. Our South Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you address the injustice you have experienced and get you the financial justice you need to move forward.

Continue reading

A former employee has filed a lawsuit against The University of Phoenix, alleging national origin discrimination, color discrimination, racial discrimination and retaliation.

The Broward County woman filed a complaint on April 27 in Broward Circuit Court against The University of Phoenix Inc. alleging violation of the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, the woman, a black Haitian, worked for the University of Phoenix from January 2007 until July 10, 2017 when she was terminated. She says she was deprived of her rights, exposed to ridicule and embarrassment, and suffered emotional distress and other damages, as a result of the discriminatory treatment and the hostile work environment she suffered from her supervisors.

The lawsuit states that the woman’s race and color were the motivating factor in her dismissal.

The suit goes on to state that The University of Phoenix failed to make prompt remedial action to prevent continued discrimination toward the woman and deprived her of her statutory rights under the Florida law.

Federal and state laws strictly prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace. Employers cannot make decisions to hire, fire, promote, or to provide training or other benefits because of a person’s race, color or national origin.  

Our South Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and commitment needed to aggressively fight employers who have mistreated employees at work or fired them because of their race or national origin. We can also protect employees who have been wrongfully retaliated against because they spoke up against race discrimination.

An employee who proves racial discrimination in the workplace did in fact occur may recover lost wages and financial compensation for the emotional harm inflicted upon them. In some cases, employees subjected to race discrimination may receive awards of punitive damages, or can even be reinstated to their jobs or promoted to their rightful position should it have been unfairly denied due to discrimination.

Continue reading

Until recently, Ferrari dealers in South Florida and elsewhere were able to roll back the odometers of the fancy pre-owned cars they sold.

However, when the Miami Herald and other media organizations brought attention to it, the company discontinued the practice that could grossly inflate the value of used Ferraris, according to new documents filed in a Palm Beach County lawsuit.

In an internal Ferrari memo filed Feb. 8 in the lawsuit brought by a former showroom salesman-turned-whistleblower, Ferrari North America notifies dealers it will no longer provide access codes that for years allowed an app called DEIS tester to make miles driven vanish from dashboards of Spiders, Californias and 488 GTB’s.

“The odometer ‘reset to zero’ functionality is being removed,” the memo reads. It also announces the removal from its Ferrari Workshop Manuals of the paragraphs that taught techs how to roll back miles.

After spending 22 years selling Ferraris throughout South Florida, the whistleblower sued for libel Ferrari of Palm Beach and one of his clients.

The whistleblower claims he was fired after discovering odometers got rolled back and discussing it with his client, who allegedly then paid off a mechanic from the dealership to roll back his LaFerrari mileage.

The whistleblower explained in court paper the rollback — which had to be greenlit by Ferrari headquarters in Italy — instantly increased the resale value of his client’s $3 million-LaFerrari by $1 million, the lawsuit claims.

The whistleblower says he was fired by Ferrari of Palm Beach in January 2016 for “egregious violation of business ethics,” allegedly facilitating his client’s rollback.

What really happened, the whistleblower says in the suit, is that he was targeted after he loudly objected to the use of the rollback device.

The whistleblower was rehired in March 2016. Since then, however, he claims Ferrari of Palm Beach engaged in a pattern of retaliation, including his move to an office that’s harder to reach by customers.

Ferrari stands by claims they did nothing wrong or illegal.

Under state and federal law, employees who step forward to expose illegal activity on their employer’s part can recover financial damages if they find themselves being harassed, intimidated, or unlawfully terminated. Moreover, in qui tam cases, whistleblowers are eligible to receive a percentage of any money recovered by the government where their testimony and cooperation were pertinent to obtaining a conviction.

Continue reading

An Orlando employee is suing a transportation company, alleging retaliation and wrongful termination.

The woman filed a complaint Nov. 6 in Orange County Circuit Court against the company, alleging violation of the coercion statute.

According to the complaint, the woman began working for the company on Jan. 18. She says on June 25, she was grabbed on the arm by another driver from a company that contracted with the company. The suit says the other driver began scolding the woman.  

The woman says she reported the incident and opened a worker’s compensation claim. After the report, the suit says, the woman’s supervisors changed their behavior toward her, followed by a change in her schedule to a shift she was unable to work. As a result, she was forced to resign June 29 because no shifts were available.

The woman claims the company failed to protect employees from any harm during employment, failed to investigate the incident claim filed under Workers Compensation claim and forced an employee to resign without valid reason.

Continue reading

A former employee is suing a south Florida cleaning company for alleged retaliation.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 3 in the Broward County Circuit Court, alleging that the company breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he suffered loss of employment, loss of income, worsening of his injury, humiliation and embarrassment on March 3 due to the company allegedly terminating his employment in retaliation for his claim for workers’ compensation benefits due to an injury he allegedly sustained in the scope of his employment.

The man holds the company responsible for allegedly terminating him in bad faith without reasonable grounds, and for allegedly interfering with his right to workers’ compensation benefits.

Florida retaliation laws were enacted to protect employees who take a stand in the workplace and fight for what is right. Our Florida Whistleblower & Retaliation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent employees who were terminated for doing the right thing. This includes employees who stand up to unlawful company conduct, file a complaint against their boss/supervisor, or testify against the company in a legal proceeding.

When an employer retaliates against an employee, Florida law provides financial relief. An employer retaliates against an employee when the employer fires, demotes, lays-off, or does anything that negatively affects the terms and conditions of the employee’s job  simply because they stood up to illegal dealings in the workplace.

Continue reading

A jury has awarded $4.5 million to a former employee who sued an Iowa hospital for age bias and retaliation.

The jury’s July 24 decision came after a 10-day trial of Grinnell Regional Medical Center and two administrators. The lawsuit states that the hospital fired the man in June 2015 from his post as lab director while in remission from breast cancer and hired a younger replacement.

It is believed that the man was targeted because he’d declined an order to retire following his initial diagnosis in November 2013.

The hospital’s attorneys deny the firing and subsequent hiring of a new director had anything to do with the man’s age or cancer diagnosis. A hospital spokeswoman says the hospital intends to appeal.

Discrimination in the workplace is not only unfair, but also illegal. There are several different federal laws that offer protection from discrimination based on disability, race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Age discrimination has its own unique set of laws called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Job applicants and employees who are over the age of 40 are usually covered by the ADEA.

Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person over 40 because of their age when it comes to:  

  • hiring
  • firing
  • promotion
  • layoff
  • compensation
  • benefits
  • job assignments
  • training

Moreover, employees who speak out against age discrimination have legal protection from retaliation.

Continue reading

A Miami-Dade County employer that sells SIM cards for cellphones is accused of terminating an employee in retaliation for his complaints about not receiving overtime pay.

The man filed a complaint on behalf of similarly situated individuals on March 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he began working for the company to sell SIM cards in November 2015 and was unlawfully terminated in December 2016. He holds the company responsible because they allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation to his complaints about not being paid any overtime wages. He also alleges he was not paid commissions as promised.

Employees are commonly hesitant to report unlawful conduct in the workplace, including wage and hour violations. Many fear that if they take any such action, they will be fired or suffer other consequences.

Retaliation is defined as “an adverse action taken against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.” Employer retaliation can take many forms and can include the following:

  • Termination
  • Denied Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in compensation
  • Reduction in hours
  • Unwarranted discipline

Continue reading

Contact Information