A federal court jury in San Diego recently awarded over $4.6 million dollars to a former employee of Regus Group, the office rental company. The plaintiff in the case, Denise Steffens, was employed as a building manager but was fired in July of 2007 after reporting wage-and-hour violations. Ms. Steffens alleged that after she complained to her supervisors that Regus’ staffing plan didn’t allow her to give her staff legally required lunch and rest breaks, her boss gave the order to “get rid of her.” Ms. Steffens alleged that she had good performance for the prior 11 years, but after blowing the whistle, her employer wrote her up for poor job performance and gave her impossible sales goals.
You can see from this case that coming forward as a whistleblower takes a lot of courage. You never know what an employer may do. Some employers will retaliate and some, like Regus, will do it in a rather obvious way. Some will not. Fortunately, there are laws out there that protect whistleblowers, and attorneys, courts, and juries who are willing to see that these laws are enforced. Congratulations to San Diego employment law attorneys Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson & Renick LLP on their victory.