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Fired HR manager sues Florida company for whistleblower retaliation

Florida law protects employees who report illegal activity at their company. These "whistleblower laws" make it illegal for employers to fire an employee who reports illegal activity or who cooperates with a similar investigation.

But a former human resources (HR) manager for a Florida elderly care services company claims that he and two other former employees were fired for exactly that reason. Earlier this month, he filed a federal lawsuit against the company, alleging that the company engaged in retaliation and fired him for cooperating in an investigation by the state attorney general's office.

According to the lawsuit, the man worked for the company from 2008 until he was fired in May of 2011. In January of last year, the man says, the state attorney general's office asked for his cooperation in an investigation of the company for possible Medicare fraud and other offenses.

He cooperated with the investigation and also remained in communication with his superiors. The lawsuit states that he informed the company CEO that he "would not cover up past fraudulent activities" when speaking with investigators.

The investigation lasted more than a year. During that time, the lawsuit states, the HR manager provided "truthful information with the state authorities regarding the handling of multiple sexual harassment complaints, the possible hiring of an illegal alien and salaries that were given in excess" of approved pay-rate schedules.

The man was fired in May of this year. While he was fired without cause, he alleges that his termination was in retaliation for cooperating with investigators. He further alleges that the company's chief operating officer and chief financial officer were let go for the same reason.

If this company did illegally fire employees for blowing the whistle, choosing to fire the human resources manager was an especially foolish mistake. HR professionals know employment law and understand their rights. As such, they are prepared to blow the whistle when they suspect foul play.

Source: Business Insurance, "Cooperating with Medicare fraud probe led to firing: Former HR manager," Matt Dunning, Sept. 16, 2011

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