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Whistleblower Receives $1.1 Million Award in Case Involving Sonoma Valley Boys Home

A jury in Sonoma County awarded $1.1 million to a whistleblower in a case against the Hanna Boys Center, ruling the whistleblower had been wrongfully terminated for raising his concerns about drug use, bullying and other issues at the boys’ home.

The whistleblower was Tim Norman, who had worked as head of clinical care at the facility for 31 years before being fired in November 2016. Hanna Boys Center is associated with the Santa Rosa diocese of the Catholic Church, and has had other legal troubles in recent years, including allegations of sexual misconduct by staff members and a nearly revoked operating license. The most high-profile case involved former clinical care director Kevin Thorpe, who succeeded Norman in the position. He was arrested last June after numerous child sex allegations going back to 2007.

Several of the issues Norman attempted to uncover were reflected in reports issued by the California Community Care Licensing Division. The agency has hit the boys’ home with 19 different citations since mid-2015 for issues such as insufficient bed linens, improperly stored cleaning supplies, staffing shortage, inadequate supervision at night and a “culture of disrespect,” which includes bullying and physical aggression.

Whistleblowers protected from wrongful termination

Blowing the whistle on illegal acts is a protected action under federal law, meaning whistleblowers cannot be retaliated against in any way, including termination. The jury ultimately found Norman followed the law to the letter in reporting his concerns about the issues at the boys’ home and awarded him appropriately.

For further guidance on how you can report wrongdoing at your workplace and benefit from whistleblower protections, work with a skilled Dallas attorney at Kardell Law Group.

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