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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Whistleblower therapist awarded $3.6M in wrongful termination suit

A whistleblower lawsuit across the country from California has resulted in what is reportedly the largest verdict of its kind in North Carolina history. Jurors in a therapist’s wrongful termination lawsuit awarded her $3.6 million in damages.

The plaintiff worked for CooperRiis, a mental health care provider from March 2008 until January 2009, when CooperRiis terminated her. According to her lawsuit, the plaintiff was fired after she went to management with concerns about how the facility administered medication to patients. Among her observations was allowing patients to self-administer overdoses of drugs, illegal administration and problems with prescription refills.

The jury agreed that the plaintiff’s actions were legally protected and that CooperRiis provided no legitimate reason for firing her. The therapist’s attorney said the $3.6 million verdict was the largest ever for a wrongful termination case tried in North Carolina.

CooperRiis’ founder and chairman of the board said in a statement that the facility would not appeal the decision. He said that CooperRiis has made changes to its procedures since the plaintiff first raised red flags to improve patient safety.

Often, the only people who know of illegal activity at a business or other employer are the employees. Someone who tries to end criminal conduct should not be punished, but sadly the people behind the crimes are often the same people who do the hiring and the firing. That is why California law protects whistleblowers from retaliation, such as termination, demotion and harassment.

Someone who has experienced workplace retaliation, including wrongful termination, should speak to an employment law attorney about their legal options.

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