A former San Francisco prosecutor will receive a $2 million award after a jury found that her employer retaliated against her for investigating corruption within city government.
Jurors agreed with Joanne Hoeper’s claims that the city was in violation of the California Whistleblower Protection Act and False Claims Act when it terminated her employment in 2014. According to the lawsuit, she had been looking into reports that employees of the city attorney’s office accepted kickbacks for directing about $10 million in taxpayer dollars to various plumbing companies for unnecessary sewer repairs.
The report Hoeper filed in 2012 did not find considerable evidence of corruption. However, she says that the city stopped her investigation before she could complete it properly. Interestingly, the city did stop the sewer payment program after Hoeper released her report.
Whistleblowers should be protected from retaliation
This case highlights how valuable a whistleblower complaint can be — and shows exactly why organizations and agencies should never retaliate against someone for raising valid concerns. In this situation, it appears as if the city should have allowed Hoeper to continue her investigation until she could complete it to her satisfaction. City officials’ failure to do so led to an expensive payout.
If you are aware of wrongdoing within a business, organization or public agency, you may be able to serve as a whistleblower and provide valuable information to a regulatory body. For further information and guidance as you consider your options, speak with a knowledgeable Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.