Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, June 16, 2006

MDV in Delaware for Whistleblowing Troopers

Whistleblowers were back on top late last month as a Delaware federal court jury returned a verdict in favor of three officers who complained they were retaliated against for reporting environmental concerns at the state police firing range. See Delaware Troopers Awarded $2 Million In Lawsuit, at the website. According to the story:
For more than two weeks, jurors heard testimony from the troopers, as well as current and retired state police officers, on how [Retired Col. L. Aaron] Chaffinch [former head of the state police] mocked the troopers in front of other high-ranking officers and used profanity when referring to Foraker.
Although a nice notch in their belt, it's not over yet as both parties are looking at how the case will be impacted by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos which held whistleblowers merely carrying out their job duties are not protected. See The Private Sector Implications of Garcetti v. Ceballos. One of plaintiff's counsel, Stephen Neuberger was not concerned, "We have a lot of cases that will be affected by Ceballos. This is not one of them."

Shortly after this verdict was returned on May 31, Chaffinch and the agency he headed were back before a second jury, this time in a sexual harassment case brought by the same attorneys who represented the three whistleblowers. The out come was different this time, as the jury took less than one hour to dismiss the plaintiff's claim. See, State police cleared of sex discrimination on the Delaware NewsJournal website.

Hat tip to the Daily Labor Report for the mention of the whistleblower verdict.

Update: On August 15, 2006, the district court took the jury verdict away based on the Supreme Court's decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, decided the day before the jury returned its verdict. See Judge tosses verdict in trooper case.


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