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For Whistleblowing Claim To Exist, Decisionmakers Must Be Aware Of Whistleblowing

Bridgette Bott was a deputy sheriff for Palm Beach County, Florida. On July 11, 2012, the Sheriff’s Office dispatched Bott to investigate an attempted suicide. Dispatch told Bott that a woman “advised her boyfriend took a lot of antidepressants last night and is now swinging the swifter at her because she won’t tell him where his gun is.” Bott spoke with the couple briefly and did not inquire about…

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Administrative Leave Can Trigger Whistleblower Rights

Like many states, Minnesota has a whistleblower statute. In general, the statute prohibits retaliation against an employee who alleges that the employer has violated the law. Sergeant Steven Moore is a 29-year veteran of New Brighton’s police department. In March 2015, the City required all police employees to attend training. Employees attended the training outside their ordinary schedules, but the City did not pay them overtime for attending. Moore…

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New Jersey Firefighter’s Punitive Damages Upheld

Fred Bonda worked as a fire inspector for the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey until he retired in 2014. Bonda sued the City, contending that the City had retaliated against him for his whistleblowing activity. Bonda relied on two categories of whistleblowing conduct: (1) reporting that the Fire Chief had instructed him to falsify roll call documents in June 2012; and (2) reporting that his superiors were improperly interfering…

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Whistleblower Protection Does Not Depend On Employee Motivation

Bruce Whitman was the Police Chief of the City of Burton, Michigan from 2002 to 2007, when the City’s mayor declined to reappoint him. Whitman then sued the City under Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act, claiming that the Mayor’s decision not to reappoint him was prompted by Whitman’s repeated complaints to the Mayor and the City Attorney that the refusal to pay Whitman’s previously accumulated unused sick and personal leave…

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Whistleblowing Report Potentially Protected By First Amendment

Melvin Kindle worked for the City of Jeffersontown, Kentucky as a police officer; Bradley Silveria and Diedra Adkins were dispatchers for the Police Department. On October 27, 2006, the three tendered a report pursuant to Kentucky’s Whistleblower Act. The report alleged that a lieutenant colonel with the Department (1) violated federal and state wage and hour laws by requiring dispatchers to report for duty 15 minutes early and not…

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Firefighter’s Court Testimony Protected By Whistleblowing Law

John Bedo worked for the City of Ecorse, Michigan Fire Department from 1973 to 2006. In the 1990s, he was promoted to fire captain, and in 2003 and 2004, he temporarily served as Fire Chief. In mid-2004, he returned to his position as fire captain. On June 9, 2006, the Department reduced the number of firefighters required to be on duty at any one time. Later that day, Bedo…

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A Roundup Of Free Speech Cases

Reverberations from the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) continue to be felt in the area of the free speech rights of public employees. A series of recent cases shows continuing debate in the Court over when an employee’s job-related speech is protected by the First Amendment. As a general proposition, the right of a government employee to speak about matters of public concern…

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Asking About Retirement Contributions Does Not Amount To Whistleblowing

Grady Throneberry is a part-time police officer with the City of Audubon Park, Kentucky. At the time of his hiring, the Police Chief explained to Throneberry that additional benefits, including the state “hazardous duty pension plan,” would become available to him if he became a full-time employee. In February 2004, Throneberry accepted a full-time position with the Department. While on duty sometime later, he injured his ankle, and went…

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