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Former executive files lawsuit over wrongful termination

A former executive of New Jersey’s Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed a lawsuit against the company after being terminated from her position. She believes the termination was because she blamed the company for disguising kickbacks as research. While the company denies the allegations, it is not the first time that it has been under investigation or been sued for such business practices. The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan accused the company of providing kickbacks earlier in the year.

The former executive stated that her termination was wrongful under the Whistleblower Act, which protects employees who report illegal business practices from retaliation by the employer. She stated that a study involving a Novartis product, Afinitor, was a violation of the company’s policies and represented a clear conflict of interest. She also noted that it was unreasonably costly and that her claims were supported when the director of clinical operations refused to approve the study contract for similar reasons.

When an employee reports an unethical or illegal business practice, safety violation or other violations of the employer, they are protected from retaliatory termination by a set of statutes collectively called the Whistleblower Act. An employee who suffers retaliation for reporting such activity may file a lawsuit against the employer for violating one of the statutes. Retaliation could include termination or a number of other discriminatory actions, such as blacklisting, demoting, denial of benefits, reduction of pay or hours or threats.

A lawsuit can allow an employee recourse when he or she suffers such retaliatory actions. The lawsuit can ease at least a portion of financial hardships associated with a termination. The lawsuit can also be a method of calling out and making public a company’s wrongdoing.

Source: NJ.com, “Ex-executive sues Novartis, claiming she was fired for objecting to perceived kickback“, Ben Horowitz, July 03, 2014

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