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Whistleblower claim dismissed where Sheriff's employee cannot prove illegal motive

Gina Steffani filed a Whistleblower Protection Act claim against the Lenawee County Sheriff after the Department refused to hire her for a dispatcher's job when she returned from a disability leave.  She argued that the Department was retaliating against her for communicating with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and that it also violated the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.

The Sheriff's Department relied on an Independent Medical Examination that it paid for, to claim that Steffani could not handle the duties of a dispatcher because she had carpal tunnel issues and might have to work at a keyboard for sustained periods, occasionally.  The Court of Appeals held that Steffani had not documented facts supporting her claim, and that even if one or more of the officers of the Department were "angry with her," they were angry that she did not follow approved channels of communication and were not principally involved in her hiring.  The Court also held that their willingness to discuss an "intake" position with Steffani proved that they were not biased. (One wonders whether that job involved  keyboarding?)
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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