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University of Oregon to Pay Out $1 Million to Police Whistleblower

The University of Oregon settled a lawsuit with a former police officer, agreeing to pay the man $1 million to bring the case to an end.

A federal jury found in September that the former police chief at the university, Carolyn McDermed, along with two other university police higher-ups, were guilty of retaliation against officer James Cleavenger, who blew the whistle on wrongdoing occurring within the department.

Cleavenger alerted the university and the general public to the fact that various swing-shift police officers at the university were wasting hours of time at work simply on creating a crude list of things and people disliked by the department. The list covered more than 200 items, including more than 130 celebrities and 25 local people and landmarks, along with television shows, sports teams, musicians, products and behaviors. Officer Cleavenger also revealed a vindictive style of management within the university police system, and a severe lack of recordkeeping and professional training.

A significant award

Cleavenger initially offered to settle the case for $50,000 in 2014, but an attorney representing the university rejected the offer. Now, he will earn a $1 million settlement. He stood a chance to win a total of $1.275 million, but that amount was subject to a lengthy appeals process.

McDermed was paid $46,000 by the university to leave her job early, and one of the two supervisors at fault for sexually harassing a number of women in the department was also recently fired. Cleavenger says it is a positive sign that the university has begun to address the problem.

It’s important for businesses and organizations to provide opportunities for employees to expose wrongdoing internally. For the guidance and advice you need, contact the skilled Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers.

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