Public Justice reports that the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has “held in Rhodes v. R & L Carriers, Inc., that a Ohio whistleblower’s retaliation and discrimination case against his former employer was improperly dismissed — and that the plaintiff is entitled to his day in court.”
The case, brought by Eugene Rhodes, was filed against his employer, R & L Carriers, Inc., an Ohio based shipping company, in 2009. In his complaint, Mr. Rhodes claimed he found that R & L Carriers refused to hire women for certain jobs, overlooked some instances of sexual harassment, lower pay for females, age discrimination, handicapped discrimination, and retaliation against employees who took family and medical leave.
Mr. Rhodes claims that when he objected to these practices, he was told that no changes would be made, since the company “had never had to write a big enough check” to bother with anti-discrimination laws. He was eventually fired.
Mr. Rhodes’ lawsuit alleges that he was illegally retaliated against by R & L and fired because of his age and because he reported the discriminatory offenses. The False Claims Acts protects whistleblowers from being fired for their claims of wrongful behavior.
The case was initially dismissed in court, but attorneys from the Public Justice Foundation successfully appealed the case, and the Sixth Circuit Court allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
This appeals decision was a major victory for Public Justice’s Iqbal project, an effort to ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ashcroft v. Iqbal ruling is not improperly used to abuse the plaintiff’s rights.