In an article titled, “Congress May Affect Arbitration More Than High Court,” Law360 reports on the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009 (S. 931, H.R. 1020). The article discusses the potential broad impact of the legislation and compares it to the possible impact of three Supreme Court cases on the docket for this term. The Arbitration Fairness Act would prohibit arbitration agreements in certain employment, financial and commercial areas.
Jason Zuckerman, a principal at The Employment Law Group® law firm declared that, “the AFA was needed to restore fairness and rein in employers’ unequal bargaining power.” According to Mr. Zuckerman, “[t]he current economic downturn was caused by corporate fraud and a legal and regulatory environment in which companies were immune from oversight and accountability. Restoring access to jury trials is fundamental to achieving corporate accountability.”
For information on The Employment Law Group® Law Firm’s Employment Law Practice, click here.
On October 22, 2009, a D.C. Superior Court awarded Colin Browne over $282,000 for his former employer’s violations of the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). This is one of the highest awards under the D.C. WPA to date. The award comes after a 5 day jury trial. We first blogged about the verdict in Mr. Browne’s case here.
Browne was the program coordinator for UDC’s federally funded Career Counseling and Development Center where he worked with UDC’s at-risk students. He discovered that his supervisors were intentionally misrepresenting the program’s success to secure federal funding. He took a stand against this fraud and in return he was retaliated against and ultimately fired.
Regarding the verdict, R. Scott Oswald, Managing Principal with The Employment Law Group® law firm said, “This case is an extraordinary victory for whistleblower protection in the District of Columbia. I especially wish to acknowledge Mr. Browne who demonstrated tremendous courage and fortitude throughout his tenure at UDC and the course of this litigation.”
For information on The Employment Law Group® law firm’s Whistleblower Practice, click here.
On October 19, 2009, the Department of Justice announced that four pharmaceutical manufacturers, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, UDL Laboratories, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical settled claims brought against them under the False Claims Act for $124 million. The case alleged that the companies misclassified “innovator” drugs as “non-innovator” drugs and underpaid quarterly rebates owed to state Medicaid programs. The case was brought by Ven-A-Care, a Key West, Florida company who will receive $10,787,392 for their efforts.
A copy of the DoJ press release is available here. For information on The Employment Law Group® law firm’s False Claims Act Practice, please click here.
In Douglas v. Skywest, Inc., the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) finding that the complainant Don Douglas engaged in protected activity under AIR 21 when he declared himself and his crew unfit to fly, and informed his supervisors on same. Don Douglas, a 16-year veteran pilot for SkyWest, filed a whistleblower complaint against his employer, alleging that the company retaliated against him when he informed the crew scheduling office that he and his crew were physically incapable of attempting another flight after just a few hours of rest. SkyWest argued that Douglas did not engage in protected activity because Douglas’s alleged fatigue was not actual but only projected, and AIR 21 does not protect projected future unfitness to fly. The ALJ rejected SkyWest’s argument, concluding that federal regulations confer “final authority and responsibility” on the pilot in command of the aircraft and thus, Douglas engaged in protected activity when he believed and reported that his crew members were unfit to make the 4:00 am flight. The ARB affirmed the ALJ’s decision, finding substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s findings that Douglas genuinely believed that he would be violating air safety regulations if he flew and that his belief was objectively reasonable given the impact of his fatigue on air safety. For more information on AIR 21, visit The Employment Law Group® law firm’s Airline Whistleblower Practice at http://employmentlawgroup.net/PracticeAreas/AirlineWhistleblower.asp
In an interview with ABC2 News, whistleblower Pete Peterson speaks about the crash of Trooper 2 that led to four deaths last year. Peterson was the Maryland State Police (“MSP”) Pilot who wrote the whistleblower letter to the Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) Inspector General last September before the crash of Trooper 2. In his letter, Peterson raised concerns about MSP’s lack of regulatory compliance and safety issues affecting MSP’s aircraft. Seventeen days after Peterson’s disclosure, an MSP helicopter crashed in Prince George’s county, killing four people. Peterson’s whistleblower letter became public shortly after the crash. More than a month later, MSP terminated Peterson for insubordination and not cooperating with the organization’s internal crash investigation. Peterson has filed a complaint under AIR 21’s whistleblower protection statutes, alleging that the termination of his employment was in retaliation for his disclosure to DOT. Peterson is being represented by R. Scott Oswald and Adam Augustine Carter of The Employment Law Group® law firm.