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Man not fired for being 'whistle-blower'

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of a plaintiff's former company, finding no evidence the company fired him in retaliation for being a whistle-blower.

In Donald A. Bregin v. Liquidebt Systems Inc. and SIRVA Inc., No. 08-1390, Donald Bregin filed a suit against Liquidebt (LSI) and SIRVA, claiming LSI fired him in retaliation for his refusal to participate in illegal accounting practices. LSI provided collection services for SIRVA, where Bregin originally worked until LSI hired him as vice president of operations. LSI had a contract with SIRVA to meet certain collection goals or face a financial penalty.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found undisputed facts that Bregin's suit must fail. Indiana is an employment-at-will state, and there are only rare occasions in which an employer can't terminate any employee for any reason, such as not firing someone who doesn't want to participate in criminal conduct, as in McClanahan v. Remington Freight Lines, Inc, 517 N.E.2d 390 (Ind. 1988).

Bregin claimed he couldn't lawfully stay silent about SIRVA's allegedly illegal accounting practices, but he never offered any specifics or identified what illegal act he was asked to commit or condone, wrote Judge Terence Evans.

Bregin also wanted the appellate court to find a new exception under Indiana's employment-at-will doctrine - that as a whistle-blower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, he's afforded certain protections against wrongful discharge under state law. But again, Bregin failed to specify any law that has been violated and is vague in describing the irregularities in SIRVA's accounting practices, wrote Judge Evans.

Bregin also failed on his claim that SIRVA tortiously interfered with his employment at LSI. LSI's president testified that he was the only one who made the decision to fire Bregin after LSI's performance on the SIRVA account didn't reach its goal. In addition, SIRVA's complaint about LSI's performance under Bregin's leadership is justified based on LSI's performance and unprofessional conduct, wrote Judge Evans.

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  1. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  2. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  3. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  4. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  5. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

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