After expressing concerns to Johnson & Johnson about the safety of certain products, an employee was fired not long after. Believing that their actions were done as retaliation for his speaking up, this employee then chose to file a lawsuit against his employers for wrongfully firing him. This was six years ago. This man expressed his great concerns for the safety of an Othro-Evra contraceptive patch and the Panacryl suture made by J&J. During this time, he was the worldwide vice president over medical affairs and believed speaking up about his concerns was in the best interest of the company as well as a part of his job description. J&J, however, did not feel the same way it seemed.
Choosing to Stand Up Causes Employee to Be Fired
According to his story, the tenure employee continually brought up his concerns for various products for safety issues to the senior management over him, even suggesting at times that recalls would be the necessary measure for the company to take to protect the people. Not long after, J&J released him from employment due to his "inappropriate conduct" as well as his lack managing his current responsibilities. The employee clearly did not believe this was accurate as he filed the lawsuit against them many years ago.
Just a few weeks ago, a three-judge court of appeals again reviewed the lawsuit that he filed and decided that this employee was actually protected under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act as an internal watchdog. Because his role in the company was to express his opinions and concerns about product safety and review them, he played a large role in making sure that the medical practices as well as business opportunities of J&J were up to par along with a board of other internal reviewers.
Favoring Profit over Patients
An example of his role was to review the safety of the products and even encourage the company to conduct recalls where necessary. Sadly, after working there and then being fired, this employee saw a different side of the J&J company, namely that they favored profits over their patients. Fortunately the court was able to see that J&J fired him at a vulnerable time when they thought they could use a "specious claim of impropriety" against him. Though he will not be protected as a whistleblower, he is protected as a watchdog which offers similar acts of protection for employees who speak up about their bosses.
There is still much to be done in this case as the employee must now still prove to the court that the actions of J&J are in fact violating the law, and that his actions we standing up to the company and refusing to participate. If he can show that because of his refusal to participate in illegal matters that the company retaliated, then he may win the case.