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Nancy Gray Nov. 7, 2018

A jury has awarded a University of California-Davis nurse $730,000, based on her claims that supervisors had ruined her career after she blew the whistle on an unethical research study. The Sacramento Bee reports that a Sacramento Superior Court jury awarded the verdict in August, after seven years of litigation.

Janet Keyzer was a nurse researcher at the UC-Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research for almost ten years when her position was terminated, allegedly after she made whistleblower claims over the ethics of conducting research projects on mentally disabled inmates at San Quentin, via blanket consent by the prison, but no individual consent of the subjects. Keyzer alleged that after raising concerns, supervisors began to act in a hostile manner toward her. Ultimately the research project was investigated by the university’s Institutional Research Board, and suspended. After the project was cancelled, Keyzer’s position was eliminated, and she was offered a short-term temporary position, which she refused to accept.

UC-Davis spokesman Andy Fell told the Sacramento Bee that it, “never disputed that she made a whistleblower complaint…when the funding for that project ended, as a result of the investigation, she went on to another short-term position and was [then] offered another [short-term] position…” The university also claims that the position was funded through grants, which were cyclical, and positions were dependent on project funding.

This case is one of many brought by plaintiffs under California’s Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The WPA protects employees against retaliation, termination, and discrimination by employers for reporting ethical or unlawful acts by the employer.

If you have questions about the WPA, or whistleblower claims in general, you can turn to Gray & Associates. Attorney Nancy Gray represents California businesses and individuals in all aspects of labor and employment law, including resolving hourly wage disputes, developing policies and best practices for human resources, and addressing potential labor and employment claims. Put a committed, knowledgeable labor and employment attorney to work for your business today. Call Attorney Gray at (310) 452-1211 or visit Gray & Associates online for a free consultation.