Police officer/union president cannot sue under Whistleblower Protection Act after suffering retaliatory re-assignment
In Smith v. City of Flint, the plaintiff was the president of the police officer's union, and had recently been assigned full-time to administering officers' grievances with the City. That arrangement was due to expire at the year-end. In the meantime, after the City passed a millage, he publicly complained that the new money intended for use in hiring additional officers was being spent improperly. He was immediately re-assigned to road patrol duties "in the most dangerous part of the City." He sued the City arguing that the administration was retaliating against him for his public criticism in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act [WPA].
Unfortunately for Smith, he drew an unfavorable panel at the Court of Appeals level, including Judge Henry Saad--who authors opinions that suggest that he doesn't believe that consumers, employees, injury victims or anyone else--no matter how abused--has a right to file a lawsuit. Saad and one other judge formed the majority who ruled that Smith could not dispute his re-assignment. They ruled that his re-assignment was a "mere inconvenience" and that he hadn't documented an "adverse employment action under the WPA." They also ruled that he failed to establish that his public criticism was "protected activity."