A Connecticut professor, who was not reappointed after he raised labor practice concerns, was recently awarded over $735,000 in a whistleblower lawsuit. The University of Connecticut School of Business violated labor laws, as well as their own policy against retaliation.
Luke Weinstein accepted a director and assistant professor position at the University of Connecticut School of Business in 2008. His work included a course load as well as work in an experiential learning center, where students could work with tech startups for practical experience.
Weinstein’s position came with a renewable annual contract, which was supposed to be secure, contingent upon positive job performance and available funding.
In 2010, the associate dean floated a plan to give students a fellowship instead of actual wages. Weinstein expressed reservations: he believed the plan would violate labor law. The associate dean dismissed his concerns, saying he was tired of “roadblocks.”
Because the school’s code of conduct required Weinstein to continue to report, he did so throughout 2010. Weinstein lost the director role in June 2010. In May 2011, he was told his contract would not be renewed.
The university argued that Weinstein’s retaliation claim could not meet the burden of proof because he had only complained internally—therefore, it was not retaliation under state law. They also argued that the funding had dried up and there was a hiring freeze. The court did not find the associate dean’s testimony credible, citing the “shifting reasons given” as evidence their true motive was retaliation.
As a result, Weinstein won over $735,000 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees.
When your employer retaliates against you for protected activity, you have legal options. A trusted whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group can help you navigate your whistleblower claim. Contact us today to learn more.