A former Chicken of the Sea employee has filed a complaint in Georgia federal court, alleging that she was fired from her HR position when she questioned misappropriation of ERISA-governed benefit funds.
Leah Thomas, a human resources employee for Chicken of the Sea, says she was fired after she reported possible issues with ERISA premium payments. Thomas noticed that Chicken of the Sea had been charging employees ERISA premiums, but did not pay the funds to the benefits carrier or the employees. As a result, the employees did not have coverage.
When Thomas “immediately reported” the problem to the company, she was fired shortly thereafter. Thomas claims that the company’s HR manager said that she had resigned from the company after an 11-year tenure. However, Thomas believes that she was actually fired for whistleblowing regarding ERISA-governed plans. Thomas argues that Chicken of the Sea breached its fiduciary duties and should be responsible for restoring the employees’ losses to their benefit plans.
The plaintiff also claims that after she was fired, hundreds of Chicken of the Sea employees contacted her to register concerns about benefits. She is seeking compensation for the employees as well as $30,000 in lost wages and benefits-related losses of at least $8,000. It took her eight months after she was fired to find new employment, and it was at a lower pay rate than her previous job.
Thomas’ case is an example of the harm that occurs when an employee tries to report internal wrongdoing. If successful, her case will restore some of the financial benefits she would have enjoyed otherwise. Furthermore, if the government is able to successfully enforce an action against Chicken of the Sea, she may be eligible for a whistleblower award—usually a percentage of the money the government recovers.
If your employer has fired you in retaliation for reporting misconduct, consider filing a whistleblower suit. A seasoned whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group can assist when you call today.