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4 men awarded damages in employer retaliation suit

Whistleblowers in Texas naturally believe they are doing the right thing by calling attention to unethical or illegal conduct at a company. However, they may be subject to retaliation, up to and including termination, which is illegal. Four men in another state recently claimed to experience employer retaliation and filed a lawsuit against their employer. They ended up being awarded damages and back pay as part of the suit.

The man worked for a masonry company, completing different construction projects, some of which were state funded and done for public entities. However, when the men began to work for the company, they reportedly experienced issues involving their paychecks. For instance, they received less pay than anticipated and got questionable payments in cash along with allegedly false promises from their supervisors. For instance, the company is accused of paying three of the men a little more than $34 an hour, but based on the state's wage law, the amount should have been more than $61 an hour. Likewise, the fourth man was allegedly underpaid at $24 an hour.

The men claimed to also have discovered major safety issues at their job sites. They alleged that after they raised these issues, they were retaliated against and eventually fired. In the lawsuit, the four men won more than $850,000 in damages and back wages combined.

Employers in Texas cannot retaliate against employees simply for speaking up about what they perceive to be violations. Employer retaliation may be in the form of firing, change in pay or adverse employment action. In these situations, employees have the right to file whistleblower claims against their companies, seeking remedies, which may include back pay or even the reinstatement of a job depending on the particular case.

Source: nj.com, "4 masons win over $850K in damages in whistleblower trial", Kevin Shea, April 15, 2016

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