Courts around the country have been reevaluating how they deal with whistleblower cases, with many areas seeing increased protections for those reporting employers. However, a recent case at the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania indicates that whistleblower laws apply differently to employees in the Justice Department. A juvenile probation officer at the Washington County Court of Common Pleas was forced to quit following his involvement in the investigation of misappropriation of funds regarding funding requests for training that, after being granted, were never used for said training.
The officer stated during a hearing that he had been advised by a superior to inform detectives investigating the matter that the funds had in fact been used for the training. He told the detectives the truth, and was told to resign the next day.
Following the forced resignation, the officer brought a suit against the County. He alleged that he had reported misappropriation of funds when asked about the incident by detectives, and should be protected against retaliation by Pennsylvania whistleblower law. The defendants argued that Pennsylvania whistleblower law did not apply to judiciary employees, and the court ruled in their favor during preliminary objections.
The Importance of Whistleblower Scope
The scope of the law became the subject of some contention following the resolution of the court case. During a review of the case, the Commonwealth Court stated that the laws do not refer to the Judiciary as falling under the definition of employer or public body, and that the creation of the law was never intended to include the Judiciary as it would negatively impact its ability to hire and fire employees. The probation officer argued that the Court’s code of conduct references the Pennsylvania whistleblower law directly, but the Court responded by stating that the description of the law as listed in the code of conduct “demonstrates the Court’s intent to bring the Judiciary under the scope of that law.”
The crux of the issue for all citizens is that whistleblower laws can be extremely complicated. There are numerous special exceptions, different implementations, and varying protections depending on by whom and in what capacity one is employed. It is important for all American workers to understand the extent and nature of the whistleblower protections afforded to them, in the event they feel it necessary to report wrongdoing or illegal activity in the workplace. Information regarding protections for whistleblowers should be available from your employer’s Human Resources department.
Montgomery County Whistleblower Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. are Well Versed in Whistleblower Law
If you have been a victim of wrongful termination following a whistleblowing incident, you are entitled to protections under state and federal law. Montgomery County wrongful termination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. are dedicated to providing personalized representation to ensure clients across Pennsylvania are treated fairly. Working with Montgomery County whistleblower lawyers can give you the opportunity to recover lost wages or even a lost position. If you have concerns that you may have been wrongfully terminated, contact us online or call 215-569-1999 for a free case evaluation at our Philadelphia office.