Saad and Kirsten Kelly take jury verdict from whistleblower
Donna Pope sued Brinks Home Security, alleging that it terminated her employment in retaliation for her threat to report to the Attorney General the illegal non-payment of commissions by Brinks. She claimed that Brinks regularly cheated employees out of commissions, and that she was going to do something about it. Brinks defended the claim agressively and argued that Pope was actually fired because a security video of the office showed that she had entered the office after 5:00 and spent too much time at one co-employees' desk and in another co-employee's cubicle (three visits totalling about 10 minutes). Brinks did not allege that Pope was wrong to enter the office after hours, or that anything was taken or missing from either location, but argued it was a matter of "integrity." Pope claimed that she was looking for documents to complete her commission reports.
The evidence showed that there were regular mistakes in the initial commission payments to employees and that the supervisor was uncertain whether all mistakes had been remedied. Ultimately, the jury believed Pope's account of the incident and concluded that the grounds offered for Pope's termination were not credible. They awarded Pope a verdict, which the trial court upheld when Brinks challenged it's basis.
The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court and dismissed Pope's claim and the jury verdict. Judges Saad and Kirsten Kelly, two judges who almost never find in favor of employees or accident victims, held that Pope's "statement alone [that she had threatened to report a violation of the law], without more, is simply not sufficient to establish...a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established." Therefore, they held, she could not prove a whistleblower retaliation claim by "clear and convincing evidence." So much for the constitutional right to a trial by a jury of one's peers.