A former human resources director at Passages Malibu, a Malibu-based addiction treatment center, has been awarded more than $1.8 million by a jury. The former employee filed a retaliation claim against the luxury treatment center after being fired for whistleblowing. She also claims she faced disability discrimination.
The former employee claims to have told supervisors that maintenance, housekeeping, and kitchen workers were not paid overtime or being allowed to take breaks. After bringing these concerns to supervisors, she was ignored.
The former employee also alleges she was sidelined by management after the death of one of the treatment center’s residents. She claims the nurse on duty during the incident had not received proper training. Her supervisors allegedly told her to alter the nurse’s employee files. She refused to do so, saying it would be illegal. After the incident, she was terminated from her position.
Passages Malibu argued it fired the former employee for not meeting the expectations demanded of her job.
Are There Protections for Whistleblowers?
Workers become “whistleblowers” when they raise concerns about illegal, negligent, or fraudulent actions committed by their employers. In many cases, employers retaliate against workers for raising these concerns. Whistleblowers may face harassment, demotion, or job termination.
It is illegal under California and federal law to retaliate against whistleblowers. However, workers should still hire an attorney before filing whistleblower claims. An attorney can help these workers prevent some of the common pitfalls associated with whistleblowing, such as job termination or demotion. It is also possible for whistleblowers to receive monetary awards. Those who have already faced retaliation may be able to file lawsuits for damages against their employers.