Supreme Court Upholds Whisleblower Protections

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that government workers who speak out on issues beyond their own disciplines are protected against employer retaliation, a decision that encouraged advocates for federal whistleblowers.

The case — Lane v. Franks — involved Edward Lane, a youth program director at a community college in Alabama, who was fired by college president Steve Franks after he testified in a public corruption trial involving a state legislator on the college payroll who performed no work. Lane fired the legislator, Suzanne Schmitz, and she is now serving a prison sentence, according to a dispatch in The New York Times.

Lane was fired from his job and subsequently sued.

The Washington-based Government Accountability Project, which had filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Lanes side, welcomed the outcome on Friday.

All whistleblowers should be grateful that the Supreme Court recognized their indispensable role making a difference, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine said. If not for Mr. Lane, [Alabama] taxpayers [might] still be paying a so-called employee not to work. The court restored rights to state government workers that Congress already reinforced for federal employees in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. The decision should be applied to all contexts where public employees bear witness by testifying under oath.

1 Comment

  • Posted June 25, 2014 Teresa Borza 8:34 am

    What if the Whistleblower is found guilty of reporting false allegations? What if the information reported is PII? How can a whistleblower have protection if information
    reported is found to be a government application that they
    hacked into and should not have had access to? What if the person is disgruntled and showing signs of mental illness? How can this be such a open and shut case? It spells disaster to me.

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