It’s About Right or Wrong!

Cynthia Fitzgerald had found her dream job after 20 years in sales; a managerial position at one of the nations largest discount pharmaceutical sales company’s, Novation.  As a new employee she attended training classes that included ethical purchasing procedures. Once work began, she found that her new workplace did not square with what had been taught in her training.

A meeting had been scheduled for Cynthia and her boss to meet with a group of sales people who had bid on a contract for 30 million dollars worth of IV equipment.  The meeting had been arranged during a “silent period”, when she was not supposed to meet privately with any of the bidding companies. This type of interaction was prohibited. The meeting included discussions behind closed doors, tipping off on how to structure a winning bid and “naming her price” (bid rigging), among other potential felonious behavior. Cynthia even recalls one sales person asking how much it would take to get the contract. When she did not respond the sales person assured her that “others before you have done it”.

Cynthia confronted her boss.” Shouldn’t they report the incident to the legal department?” Her boss offered no satisfaction, being  more concerned about the integrity of a bidding process that they were responsible for. Cynthia began pursuing the matter herself. She took her concerns to Novation’s legal department, human resources and even the company’s president, she was only rebuffed and scrutinized for her findings.

Cynthia moved on to the next contract and the same thing started to happen. Feeling uncomfortable, she asked her supervisor if she could be taken off the contract. Her supervisor agreed, but then gave her a negative performance review stating that she was rude, unable to meet deadlines, among many other false accusations.  Fifteen days after she had asked to be taken off the contract, Cynthia was fired from Novation for “nonperformance of duties that were clearly identified as part of her job description”. Cynthia believes she was shown the door because she had stumbled onto illegal behavior that involved sales manipulation, resulting in millions of dollars of Medicare reimbursements and she had refused to look the other way.  Her firing left her unable to get another job in her field; word of her demise at Novation seemed to precede her wherever she went.

Cynthia was contractually forbidden from disclosing any information about Novation or filing lawsuits against it for three years. Once that period lapsed, she gradually became aware of the False Claims Act, a federal law that allows private individuals to sue on behalf of the United States if they believe that they have inside knowledge of a fraud. It can be seen as protection for people who are willing to risk their lives and livelihoods, their careers and reputations.   Cynthia did finally go to court, but the case is still under investigation.

Questions

If you can’t trust Human Resources, where do you go ?

Should Cynthia have confronted her boss about the illegal behavior instead of asking to be taken off the Contract?

Brianna Bain

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3 Responses to It’s About Right or Wrong!

  1. greenmba2008 says:

    Since Human Resources is unavailable for ethical concerns, she should contact a lawyer or some for of legal counsel. They can best advise her of her options. Particularly in this case, she may be protected from the legal documents she signed if she can become a credible whistle blower.

    I think she should mention it to her boss, but also realize the corruption of the company runs deep. If she didn’t make headway with her manager or any other department, she should have quit. By exposing the situation to so many people in the business, she should have realized this would forever impact her career at the company. Personally, I would not want to work with people who now know I will work against the practices of the company. Quitting would have saved her the hassle of being a “traitor” and more than likely would have kept her from having a poor performance review.

  2. Susan C says:

    In hindsight, Cynthia should have reviewed the conditions of employment with an attorney before signing a contract which prohibited her from filing a lawsuit. I’ve heard of non-compete agreements, but a non-legal recourse agreement seems suspect. I don’t know if this is a customary practice in the pharmaceuticals industry, clearly it forces an employee to live with the values (or lack thereof) and ethical standards (or lack thereof) of an employer. Compromising one’s core values to keep a job is not an enviable place to be. Cynthia would have been wise to confront her employer and resign, rather than being put in a position to incur the displeasure of this corrupt bunch and be fired. I would have advised Cynthia to pursue the path she did by filing suit under the False Claims Act. It’s time that so-called whistle blowers can be true to their principles, expose fraudulent acts in the workplace, and not be considered pariahs in their field of work by taking actions that are ethical and lawful.

  3. greenmba2008 says:

    Paul has no right to change the rules in this blatantly illegal manor. All of his employees who took the money need to report this cash income to the IRS on their taxes. I would be surprised if they did. I can’t imagine Paul telling them to do so. He has now ‘recruited’ a group to engage in illegal activities. Why didn’t he go to the management and ask permission to try and do this kind of motivation through the company? If it works, he would be in a strong position in the company. If they didn’t want to do it, he could look for a job elsewhere.

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