A whistleblower in Virginia who exposed financial wrongdoings and was terminated for it has won $950,000 under the anti-retaliation provision of the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), reports Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
Andrea Gail Jones, once the chief financial officer at SouthPeak Interactive – a video game publisher and developer based in Midlothian – was terminated for reporting intentional or fraudulent actions perpetrated by SouthPeak employees.
Jones refused to sign an audit report that she knew was doctored, and was fired the next morning after a meeting of the board.
In order to succeed with the anti-retaliation provision under SOX in court, Jones needed to prove four things:
- Jones engaged in protected activity.
- The employer knew about the protected activity.
- Jones experienced an adverse or unfavorable personnel action.
- The protected activity contributed to the unfavorable personnel action.
SouthPeak was forced to try to prove with persuasive and clear evidence that Jones would have lost her job regardless of her protected activity. During the trial the question became whether Jones was fired “because of” her whistleblowing, or was her whistleblowing a “contributing factor” to her firing.
After a two-hour deliberation, the jury found that Jones was terminated because of her protected activity, and awarded her $950,000 in damages from SouthPeak, along with two other individuals named in the suit: Melanie J. Mroz and Terry M. Phillips.
The ruling is believed to be the first in Virginia under the whistling blowing provision under SOX.
Parrish Law Firm, PLLC works with Virginia residents who have been wrongfully fired by their employers in an effort get the financial compensation they deserve. Contact us today 703-906-4229 or send us an email and tell us about your case.