Philadelphia Employment Law News

Graham Spanier, the Alleged Sandusky Cover-Up, and Retaliation

More news regarding the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal. Reports are now emerging that Graham B. Spanier has been charged with eight criminal counts including obstruction of justice, perjury, and endangering a child, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Spanier was president of Pennsylvania State University before the Sandusky scandal blew up.

According to Pennsylvania State Attorney General Linda Kelly, Spanier's inaction was not inadvertence and oversight, but rather part of a "conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State."

Conspiracy of silence. Interesting choice of words.

Former Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary would probably agree with that. McQueary claims to have witnessed a boy being molested by Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State locker room. When he complained to university officials, he was silenced. Or so he claims. McQueary also claims that eventually, he was retaliated against for bringing up the issue.

While the cover-up sounds shocking to most, the reality is that if you've ever been in a whistleblower situation, you may have found yourself in the same position as Mike McQueary.

While company policies claim to protect whistleblowers, theory is different from practice.

In many cases, an employee will find himself in a compromising position after complaining about something in the workplace. And while employers may encourage their employees to go to a manager or to HR when they witness discrimination, sexual harassment or anything else illegal, the reality is that in many cases, company management may try to brush the issue under the rug, especially when the complaints are about valuable senior-level employees.

There are many reasons for this: lack of knowledge on effective management of sensitive issues, a desire not to rock the boat, or sometimes sheer nepotism.

And that's why there are lawsuits for retaliation. Because when complaints from whistleblowers get swept under the rug, retaliation usually isn't far off.

Retaliation lawsuits are not uncommon. And retaliation lawsuits can be very scary to an employer. When an employee complains about discrimination or harassment, any adverse action against the complaining employee can constitute retaliation.

That's scary. But with massive cover-ups, it becomes hard to prove anything -- discrimination, retaliation or adverse action. In the Penn State scandal, the fact that Spanier is being charged may add strong evidence to McQueary's claim that he was, in fact, retaliated against.

Have a look at our Philadelphia Criminal Law Blog for more posts about the Sandusky case. And if you want to discuss retaliation lawsuits, have a look at our directory of Philadelphia employment law attorneys below.

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