For more information please call  800.727.2766


Tenth Circuit Upholds $1 Million Whistleblower Verdict

Bruce Casias supervised independent testing for a Raytheon GPS project intended for the U.S. Air Force. When the project was behind schedule and significantly over budget, Casias’s supervisor, Joe Hollon, told Casias to change some of the data to make the project look more successful. Specifically, Hollon to Casias to mark incomplete tasks as completed. Casias questioned Hollon about these changes, but Hollon told him to “just do it.” Casias complied and sent the data to the Air Force. However, Casias reported the false data to Raytheon leadership. When the Air Force emailed Casias over the next few months to ask why the data was suddenly different, Casias deferred all questions to Hollon. Casias continued to voice his concerns to Hollon about the false data. Within six months, Raytheon reassigned Casias to a different and less significant role. Hollon told Casias’s replacement that Casias had falsified data, and Hollon reassigned him. Casias contacted Raytheon's Ethics Department and a Department of Defense hotline to report what had happened. Casias then left the company, taking a lower-paying and lower-ranked position at another defense contractor.

Casias sued Raytheon for violating the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act (DCWPA). A jury awarded Casias $43,000 in back pay and $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Raytheon appealed the verdict to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Raytheon argued the jury did not have sufficient evidence to reach a verdict for Casias. The DCWPA prohibits employers from demoting an employee in retaliation for disclosing information the employee reasonably believes is evidence of mismanagement. The appellate court found a reasonable jury could view Casias’s reassignment as adverse because, even though his salary and benefits remained the same, the reassignment could negatively impact Casias's reputation and job prospects. Raytheon further argued Hollon demoted Casias for following Hollon's unethical order, an act not prohibited by the DCWPA. However, the court found the jury had sufficient reason to believe this proffered reason was pretextual. Casias testified Hollon was angry and raised his voice in response to Casias’s challenges to the false reporting. The court affirmed the jury’s verdict.