Whistleblower Fall Out Dogs Penn State University’s Mike McQueary
Cleveland, OH (Law Firm Newswire) December 5, 2012 - Being a whistleblower is not fun. It typically has a variety of consequences.
“Many whistleblowers face distain and are ostracized not only in their workplace, if they are still employed, but from other sources as well. One of the most high profile cases dealing with the fall out of being a whistleblower is the case filed by former Penn State assistant football coach, Mike McQueary,” said Tom Robenalt, a Cleveland whistleblower lawyer. Many will recognize the McQueary name from the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.
This case was a hot potato to begin with, given the highly inflammatory nature of the allegations against Sandusky. And because it was such a high profile case, the judges in the country where the suit was filed all ended up removing themselves from hearing the matter, since they either had connections to the Second Mile charity or Penn State itself. Getting justice was beginning to look like a difficult proposition.
An out-of-county judge was assigned to handle this whistleblower case; a case that is asking the court of millions of dollars in damages from Penn State. McQueary’s statement of claim alleges the university defamed him when he blew the whistle on Sandusky, and in doing so, had made it impossible for him to continue his football career. McQueary told the court during the Sandusky trial he had seen some form of sexual encounter in 2001, in the campus showers.
He further stated that once he reported what he witnessed to the head-coach, he was relieved to hear the information had been passed on to the university president, vice president and the athletic director. It appears the buck stopped there, and in subsequent news releases, Penn State University president, Graham Spanier, supported the actions of his vice president and the athletic director. “The lawsuit states the releases were intended to pin the tail on the whistleblower by making him a scapegoat,” added Robenalt.
As a result of the fallout at Penn State, McQueary’s coaching contract was not renewed; a move that suggests he was being penalized for talking to and cooperating with investigators. He also lost back pay, benefits, and a bowl bonus and wishes to be reinstated.
Does this whistleblower lawsuit stand a chance in court? “It may,” indicated Robenalt,” if there is a clear connection between McQueary’s contract being terminated and his having spoken up and out about what he saw in the showers one day. That, of course, is for the court to decide.”
“Whistleblower lawsuits are far from easy and straightforward, and for this reason, if you are in a situation like this one, you need to seek competent legal counsel before filing a lawsuit. In fact, most courts will not hear a whistleblower lawsuit without an experienced attorney handling the matter,” Robenalt added.
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