It is a saying straight off of a Hallmark card or a motivational poster: “Do what is right, not what is easy.” Another popular saying falls along the lines of “Integrity is about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” We teach our children that they should always uphold morality and the law, even when it is not the easiest thing to do.
Although those are lessons that we share with our children, they are not always practiced in our adult life. Reporting illegal activity in the workplace is “what’s right,” but supervisors and employers do not always see things that way. This is why we have whistleblower protection laws, and it is also why one city worker filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after she reported on-the-job intoxication and drunk driving.
In this instance, the woman was a city employee who worked outside of New Jersey. The woman observed on several instances the city secretary intoxicated while on the job and getting behind the wheel of her car. The female employee became concerned and asked for a meeting with the mayor to quietly address the issue.
When that meeting was denied, the woman took her concerns to the chief of police. The woman even knew that proof the intoxication existed, but the individual in charge of releasing the video evidence was the same city secretary who had allegedly consumed the alcohol.
Upon receipt of the request for the video evidence, the city secretary called the employee into her office. The city secretary then asked whether the employee would like to continue her pursuit, and she responded affirmatively. Immediately after, the mayor called the woman into his office and terminated her employment.
What truly shocked the employee was that the termination documents had been drafted previous to the second meeting with the mayor. The reasons cited for the firing were a combination of substandard performance and budget cuts, but there was no indication in the woman’s employment file that performance had ever been an issue.
Employment attorneys in New Jersey will help workers who live by the same lessons they try to teach their children. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and the law protects those that are brave enough to report illegal activity in the workplace.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Fired for Doing What’s Right, Woman Says,” Cameron Langford, Sept. 3, 2013