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Whistle-Blowers held to letter of the law

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The Ohio whistle-blower law protects employees who report wrongdoing from retaliation. But that doesn’t mean employees can add a whistle-blowing claim every time they sue after being discharged.

To get the law’s protection, employees must follow the letter of the law, not just the spirit. That means making a good-faith effort to ensure their complaint is valid. It also means filing an internal and external report of alleged wrongdoing.

Recent case: Greg Hill worked for Mr. Money, a sub-prime lender, until he was discharged as part of a reorganization. Shortly before he found out he was about to lose his job, he complained to management about another employee’s alleged fraudulent loan practices, including inflating credit scores and lending out of state.

The company investigated and the employee that Hill complained about resigned. Then Hill sued, alleging he had been targeted for termination because he had complained.

But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals analyzed what the Ohio law requires. It concluded that it takes more than an oral complaint to get protection. The law requires that the employee provide his employer with a written complaint. Then, if the employer takes no action, the employee must go to law enforcement or another regulatory body with the information. Only if the employee follows the rules does he become protected from retaliation. (Hill v. Mr. Money Finance Company, No. 3:06-CV-1639, 6th Cir., 2007)

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