When employees witness wrongdoing at their place of employment, they should be able to trust their employer to listen to their concerns without fear of retaliation. However, if employees get demoted or fired as a result of their whistleblowing, they may seek damages in the form of a wrongful termination suit. That is what is happening in New Jersey as ex-employees of the Wall Township School District are taking on the former superintendent and assistant superintendent.
In the lawsuit, the three former employees allege that the assistant superintendent covered up a report concerning the sexual assault of a 4-year-old student. The employees claim that when they approached the superintendent to inform him of the cover up, he verbally harassed them and made several threats that included terminating them, not renewing their contracts and eliminating their pensions. They charge that he subsequently forced two of them to resign and one to accept a demotion.
The suit also names the Wall Township Board of Education, claiming that the board members were aware of the defendants' misconduct. The plaintiffs stated that they suffered public humiliation, economic hardship and emotional distress from the incident. In addition to compensation for back pay and attorney's fees, they are asking for job reinstatement and any additional damages that the court deems suitable.
New Jersey has whistleblower statutes in place that are designed to protect employees from wrongful termination and other forms of retaliation. If an employer violates these statutes, the employee may benefit from exploring what legal channels are available to address his or her grievances. However, if an accusation of wrongful termination is just that, the employer may wish to seek the advice of legal counsel to determine the best way to defend against such a serious allegation.
Source: nj.com, "Former Wall school employees file wrongful termination suit for alleged sex assault cover up," Ashley Peskoe, July 24, 2013