Safeguarding Your Rights In The Workplace

Texas fast-food chain settles employee retaliation claim

When an employee notices illegal activity at the workplace and reports it to management, the employer does not always reward the worker for their honesty and courage. In fact, many whistleblowers are punished, whether they reported the activity to law enforcement or internally. Retaliation can include demotions, a toxic work environment and outright firing of the worker.

Texas lawmakers recognize how unfair whistleblower retaliation is. To encourage whistleblowers to come forward, state and federal law lets you sue your employer for retaliating against you. If you win, you may be entitled to back pay, reinstatement to your job and other compensation.

Whataburger settles suit for $180k

Whataburger, the Texas-based fast-food chain, has settled a retaliation lawsuit filed by a former hiring manager for Tallahassee, Florida. Her story began after her general manager repeatedly instructed her only to hire white job applicants for the area restaurants, never African Americans.

The manager informed upper management. But instead of correcting this racist policy, management told her to hire workers that “reflect the customer base where we do business.” After that, the manager found herself being assigned too much work and forced into an unwanted shift change. Even worse, she was threatened and abused, sometimes physically.

In settling the suit, Whataburger agreed to pay the manager $180,000. The company also will change its human resources policies, require management retraining and launch an anonymous hotline for workplace complaints.

Whistleblowers deserve praise, not revenge

In a perfect world, an employee like this manager would be rewarded with a promotion for exposing racist and illegal hiring policies being enforced by her direct supervisor. But this is the real world, and sometimes people who do the right thing get their career ruined because of it.

If something like this has happened to you, there are things you can do to restore your reputation and hold your current or former employer accountable for its retaliatory misconduct.