Whistleblower News This Week — 4/15/08

Three news stories about whistleblowers have caught my attention this week, and I wanted to share them with everyone.

1.)    Briefs have been filed in a potentially precedent-setting case for one Maryland state whistleblower law. The case, Lark v. Montgomery Hospice, Inc. — pending before the Court of Appeals of Maryland — could determine whether Maryland’s Healthcare Worker Whistleblower Protection Act should protect whistleblowers who report their claims internally (within their chain of command), or if the law only applies to those employees who report their claims to a regulatory agency. Since we know (both by empirical evidence and just plain common sense) that the vast majority of employees reporting wrongdoing go to their supervisor first, then it only makes sense that strong whistleblower laws should always protect employees who report internally.

The American Nurses Association, a professional organization representing nearly 3 million registered nurses, has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the whistleblower in this case. See the ANA press release here>>

2.)    It appears that a gutsy whistleblower is taking on corruption in a federal trial in Iowa. The whistleblower, Kelly Taylor, was a financial officer a now-defunct state agency called the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium.(CIETC). Despite being "warned" about looking into agency finances (aka. doing his job), Mr. Taylor blew the whistle on over two million dollars in misspent funds, including fraudulent salary bonuses for upper management, and he has now taken the stand against his former bosses. Defense attorneys are painting Mr. Taylor as a "disgruntled employee," but his testimony is being backed up by state auditors and federal law enforcement. Who knows how this one will turn out, but it looks like a familiar story…

3.)   In an interesting story coming out of the University of Nevada(Reno), a professor and internationally recognized animal nutritionist has been fired after reporting animal abuse in the university’s laboratories. The decision, by UNR president Milton Glick, to fire professor Hussein S. Hussein came after two disciplinary hearings. Mr. Hussein claims the charges against him were brought in retaliation for his whistleblowing, which led to UNR admitting animal abuse and paying a fine in excess of $10,000.

Unbelievably, the first disciplinary hearing against the professor was actually set up to determine whether Mr. Hussein had acted properly when he sought veterinary help for the abused animals on campus; that hearing was dismissed.  The second, and most recent, hearing concluded with a judge and faculty panel recommending that Mr. Hussein be reprimanded, or possibly demoted — but not fired. Mr. Glick ignored their recommendations, and went ahead with the termination anyway. An appeal will likely be filed.

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