Whistleblower Reinstatement Highlights Need for Companies to Keep Detailed Files on Personnel

In 2012, a jury ruled that Bayer Corporation had unlawfully terminated one of its sales representatives, Mike Townsend, because he alerted the Arkansas Attorney General to incidents of physicians overbilling Medicaid for the company’s drugs.

Just before the company fired Townsend, it had suspended his corporate credit card for six months after his wife accidentally used expense reimbursements from the company to pay for some of the couple’s other bills. When Townsend paid the balance on his corporate account, it was reactivated. Almost immediately after the account was reactivated, however, the company fired Townsend, claiming the closed account did not allow him to entertain physicians. The jury in the case determined Townsend was terminated because he acted as a whistleblower, not for the reasons Bayer claimed.

Company fails to act in good faith

After the jury handed down the verdict, Bayer was ordered to reinstate Townsend in the same position and at the same rate of pay. However, the company gave him a position of lower seniority and pay at a location more than 500 miles away from his home. The court found this offer was not made in good faith. After further legal action, he was ultimately restored to his former position.

If companies have a legitimate reason to terminate employees who have already reported some type of wrongdoing within the company, they must have thorough documentation of these reasons in the employee’s file. Otherwise, the advantage typically lies with the whistleblower when it comes to legal action.

For further guidance on how to proceed with your wrongful termination claim, meet with Steve Kardell at Whistleblower Law for Managers.