Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Whistleblower Retaliation Suit

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The plaintiff, a former employee of Stein Mart, Inc., brought claims alleging that Stein Mart wrongfully dismissed her in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Florida Whistleblower Act. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted summary judgment in favor of Stein Mart, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed on appeal.

The plaintiff alleged that Stein Mart terminated her employment in retaliation for her reporting what she believed to be unlawful business and accounting practices, including: (1) improper collection of markdown allowances from vendors; (2) changing season codes on older inventory; and (3) inaccurate accounting of the value of inventory. Stein Mart contended that it dismissed the plaintiff because she mishandled the company’s fragrance purchases during a holiday season and subsequently failed to improve in her performance even after being counseled about her deficiencies.

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