HEADLINE: Alleged Wackenhut whistleblower will get his day in court
BODY: The case of a man who said he was fired because he divulged illegal activities at a Wackenhut Corrections Corp. facility survived summary judgment on appeal.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the man's disclosures were protected under California statutes that protect whistleblowers.
Background: John P. Elliott worked at a facility owned and operated by Wackenhut. While he was employed by Wackenhut, he sent several letters to government officials complaining about mismanagement at the prison where he worked.
His letters included information that Wackenhut covered up an inmate escape, engaged in fraud, mishandled incident reports, allowed sexual and physical assaults and drug use by inmates, allowed inmates to possess weapons, retaliated against him for seeking various changes, failed to follow the agreement it had reached with the government and allowed officers to carry weapons illicitly in public.
Elliott was subsequently suspended without pay and was never allowed to return to work. Further, Elliott said Wackenhut did not notify him about the status of his employment for many months.
Once he was notified of his termination, Elliott filed suit against Wackenhut. He said his dismissal was because of the letters he sent and that the letters included content protected under California Lab.Code 1102.5.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California said the information was not protected and dismissed the case.
Ruling: The appeals court said it is clear that the alleged actions taken against Elliott qualify as an adverse employment action under Section 1102.5. Moreover, if Elliott's allegations are true, his employment with WCC was permanently terminated. Section 1102.5 says an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute or regulation. The District Court ruled that, even if Elliott was fired for sending the letters to officials, the letters were not protected by Section 1102.5. The 9th Circuit disagreed.
A jury could conclude Elliott might have had reasonable cause to believe that his letters included information about violations of federal and state laws. A jury could conclude that Elliott's disclosures were thus protected by 1102.5.
Further, the court said a question of fact also remained as to whether WCC's actions against Elliott were in retaliation for protected disclosures.
"Because we hold that a jury could find that Elliott's letters included content protected under Cal. Lab.Code 1102.5, we reverse and remand," the court said.
Elliott v. Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, No. 02-15049 (9th Cir. 02/20/03).
Allegations sound a little far fetched. Why don't you wait on the facts. You have been burned so many times reporting allegations seems like you would learn. Bottom feeders like you never learn. I will file this one and feed it to you when he gets his day in court. Would you like it with humble pie or without?