Employee-whistleblower fired for participation in investigation may sue under Whistleblower Protection Act
This week the Michigan Supreme Court held that Bruce Whitman's (now years-old) jury verdict should not have been overturned, for a second time, by the Court of Appeals majority opinion written by the insurer's best friend, Henry Saad. Whitman, the Chief of Police in Burton, Michigan, secured a whistleblower verdict after he was terminated. He claimed, and the jury accepted, that he was terminated for objecting to the City's failure to follow its own ordinance governing supervisor pay. The City appealed.
The Court of Appeals panel assigned to hear the case on appeal included Judge Saad, who always sides with insurers, government and employers against ordinary people. After all, he's a Republican stalwart and that's where the money is. Saad wrote for the majority in overturning the jury decision, ruling that Whitman wasn't a "whistleblower." Earlier this year, the Supreme Court overturned Saad's decision and sent the case back to the Court of Appeals. A second time around, Saad again wrote an opinion overturning the verdict, arguing that since Whitman benefited from the City complying with the pertinent ordinance, he couldn't qualify as a "whistleblower" entitled to legal protection.
This week, the highest court rebuffed Saad once again, and agreed with dissenting Judge Beckering that Saad was stretching the law and ignoring its prior decision in his effort to protect the City. The verdict was still not final, however, as the high court sent the case back to Saad's panel to harmonize it with other prior decisions.