In January of 2017, the Denver Better Business Bureau issued a warning to CenturyLink, the third largest telecommunication company in the United States, regarding the company’s advertising claims and sales practices. The warning was issued after an investigation was initiated in September of 2016 in response to thousands of complaints filed by consumers. Initially, the telecommunication giant cited the company’s recent acquisitions and growth as the reason the company received an unprecedented number of complaints within a three-year period. These claims came under fire when a former employee and self-proclaimed whistleblower filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink.
Former sales and customer service representative Heidi Heiser worked for CenturyLink for over a year without receiving any negative reviews or complaints from her immediate supervisors. The former employee claims that after approximately four months she noticed that a high percentage of customers contacting the company complained about being billed for services they never requested. According to Heiser, the company encouraged employees to sign customers up for services without the customer’s approval by incentivizing goals. When Heiser contacted her immediate supervisors and managers, she was told to not discuss her concerns again. After sending a message to company CEO Glen Post about the unethical practices, Heiser was abruptly fired.
Once Heidi Heiser retained an attorney and filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink for terminating her employment because she was a whistleblower, scrutiny of the company’s practices intensified. A pattern of complaints throughout social media and consumer review sites seemed to corroborate Heiser’s claims. After tracing the alleged fraud to Colorado a class action lawsuit was filed in Denver court accusing the company of defrauding its customers. Operating in 37 states nationwide, CenturyLink is seeing multiple lawsuits filed in federal courts to address each state’s unique consumer protection laws.
What This Means
The telecommunication company currently faces a lawsuit that seeks $12 billion in damages. More customers are coming forward to share their stories, and as the magnitude of the claims became clear, CenturyLink stock experienced a 7% fall. While the loss of customer trust and potential financial loss is nothing to take lightly, the company must also brace for the legal and financial penalties associated with violating state and federal whistleblower laws. The provisions and statutes cover specific situations, making it important for employees to know their rights and what protection is available to them when faced with the task of reporting unlawful behavior within their place of employment.
How to Proceed
If you or someone you know has been penalized for disclosing illegal, unethical, or dangerous actions of an employer or fears facing retaliation contacting an attorney is the safest option. A whistleblower claims attorney is able to explain Colorado law and help you to determine how to proceed with your report or aid you if you are terminated. HKM Employment Attorneys understand how devastating retaliatory job loss is and we are dedicated to protecting our clients who are only trying to do what is right. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our conveniently located Denver, Colorado office so that we can begin discussing your claim.