There are many legitimate reasons to fire an employee. If that employee is unreliable and not capable of completing the job tasks for which they were hired or commits some sort of illegal behavior related to the workplace, firing them would be a legitimate option. However, it is illegal to fire someone in retaliation for reporting what is believed to be illegal behavior. In a recent lawsuit, one woman in Texas claims she was demoted in retaliation for reporting illegal activities.
The lawsuit was recently filed against a Texas sheriff. The plaintiff claims that she reported another deputy who intended to file false papers indicating he had earned a college degree and deserved a pay increase. Although she says that she warned the sheriff that filing such papers would be illegal, he still intended to file the degree with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
At the time, the plaintiff was working as the Training Coordinator, but claims she was demoted to jailer. She additionally claims that county equipment was confiscated, and she was denied access to personal files. Papers filed with the court claim that the employee seeking a pay increase received over $4,000 in a period lasting just over a year.
In Texas, people who have faced termination or a demotion as a result of retaliation have the option of seeking legal recourse. In addition to reinstatement, a person who can prove their claims could be awarded damages. Litigation could also prevent an employer from engaging in the same behavior in the future.
Source: tylerpaper.com, "Whistleblower sues Smith County Sheriff, alleging retaliation", Adam Russell, Oct. 15, 2014