Southeast Texas Record

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Whatever their motivations, whistleblowers can perform a valuable public service

Our View

By The SE Texas Record | Nov 16, 2015

Disgruntled employees come in many varieties. Some have legitimate grievances. Some have bad attitudes.

There's not much you can do for the ones with bad attitudes. In fact, trying to placate them is likely to make them even more unpleasant and unproductive.

For the ones with legitimate grievances, however, the obvious solution is to address those grievances and correct the underlying problem.

Termination may be a solution, but disgruntled ex-employees sometimes cause even more trouble.

Sometimes they file lawsuits, which can be costly to defend against or settle.

Sometimes they expose confidential or questionable company policies and practices, and the damage done by those revelations can be even more costly.

Truett Akin IV and Michelle Mears, principals in the Houston firm AkinMears, may now regret the decision to terminate former business development officer Amir Shenaq, rather than provide him the compensation he said he'd been promised.

Shenaq subsequently filed suit against the partners and the firm in Harris County District Court, in the process disclosing juicy details of a dubious business model.

Shenaq described AkinMears as a “mass tort warehouse” and a “glorified claims processing center,” borrowing large sums to finance massive television ad campaigns and acquiring mass tort suits from other firms.

The parties have reached a tentative settlement in the dispute, but not before a “wave of media attention” washed over the firm, undermining its credibility and reputation.

Maybe he was motivated by a bad attitude or maybe he had a legitimate grievance. Either way, it clearly was not a sense of civic duty that compelled disgruntled ex-employee Amir Shenaq to blow the whistle on AkinMears. He seemed to have no objections to the practices he subsequently criticized, so long as he could expect to get what he thought he had coming.

Still, we're glad he shed some light on the plague of lawsuit mass-marketing. How many more Amir Shenaqs are out there, with whistles to blow?

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