Lawsuit Filed Against the Roanoke Police Department Under the Virginia Whistleblower Protection Act
Posted By MatadorAdmin || 24-Jun-2022
Two years ago, then-Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a comprehensive whistleblower protection law into place. The law, which has been in effect since July 1, 2020, prohibits an employer from taking any kind of retaliatory action against an employee because of the employee’s protected conduct. As a Virginia whistleblower retaliation attorney can explain, prior to the passage of this law, there were very limited statutory protections for employee whistleblowers in the private sector.
Today, with this law in place, Virginia employees are finally protected when they report legitimate complaints of alleged legal violations their employer may be guilty of, as evidenced by the most recent lawsuit filed against the Roanoke Police Department by two police officers.
Under the Virginia whistleblower protection law, no employer may discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against a whistleblower whether that employee is acting on his or her own or through a person acting on his or her behalf or under his direction. Yet, according to two officers of the Roanoke Police Department, that is exactly what happened to them.
The first officer, a female, was hired by the department in 2003. The second officer, a male, was hired almost two years later. In October 2021, both officers sued the department, alleging years of being overlooked for promotions and retaliation from other officers.
In her lawsuit, the female officer alleges more than 10 years of enduring sexual harassment from other officers, as well as being called out by fellow officers when she once reported another officer for sexual harassment.
In his lawsuit, the male officer said he filed a sexual harassment complaint on behalf of a female officer in 2017. The officer says not only was the complaint not followed up on but that it ultimately cost him an opportunity of being promoted to captain.
Both officers also allege a list of other complaints, including unsafe practices by the department during a manhunt in 2019 and the 2020 protests over the death of George Floyd. The lawsuits also target the department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both officers are seeking $5 million each in damages for “retaliation in violation of the Virginia whistleblower protection act.”
Have You Been a Victim?
Many employees turn a blind eye away from acts of misconduct, discrimination, and other illegal employer practices out of fear of retribution. It takes courage to come forward and file a complaint about an employer or other employee. Unfortunately, employers don’t often see it that way, and that’s where a skilled attorney from the Federal Practice Group can ensure your legal rights are protected.
If you have witnessed illegal activity at your workplace, experienced a hostile work environment, or suffered retaliation for speaking up about any of these activities, Virginia law provides you with whistleblower protection. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation and find out what legal recourse you may have.