• Key point. Churches that dismiss an employee for reporting financial improprieties may be liable for wrongful dismissal.
A Missouri court ruled that a charity could be sued by a bookkeeper who was dismissed as a result of her reporting financial improprieties by her supervisor. A bookkeeper became aware that her supervisor was engaged in a number of financial improprieties, including (1) stealing money from his employer; (2) charging personal expenses to his employer and not paying these charges back; (3) keeping some of the cash sent to his employer in the mail; and (4) obtaining reimbursements for travel expenses that were never incurred. She reported her findings to a member of the charity's personnel committee who told her to "get more evidence." She continued to gather evidence, and spoke with two other members of the personnel committee. She was later dismissed. The reason for her dismissal was hotly contested. The charity insisted that her dismissal had nothing to do with her accusations against her supervisor. Rather, it insisted that she had been fired for missing several days of work, failing to perform assigned duties, and arriving late to work. The bookkeeper claimed that she had been dismissed because of her "whistleblowing." She sued her former employer, and a jury awarded her $100,000 in damages.