Former Lee County Animal Services employees Glenn Johnson and Donna Ward, were reinstated to there job positions with Lee County in a huge victory in their whistleblowers case for wrongful termination. Lee County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Krier ruled in an 8-page Order that both Donna Ward and Glenn Johnson, former animal services employees, were in fact whistleblowers and had engaged in protected activity under Florida’s Public Sector Whistleblower Statute. Specifically, the court found that numerous disclosures to Assistant County Manager Christine Brady could be construed as violations of local, state, or federal laws rules or regulations. The court further found that the employees were terminated only two weeks after sending emails with disclosures to Lee County Commissioners. Lee County’s attorneys asserted that Ward and Johnson were terminated for reasons unrelated to their whistleblower activities. However, the court rejected these reasons finding that it was not convinced by the county’s alleged reasons for the termination. The legal victory is significant for the Plaintiffs, who will be immediately returned to their positions with the County pending the outcome of trial in the matter. The Court set the stage for a full-blown jury trial where a Lee County jury will ultimately determine the issue. If the plaintiffs prevail, the damages and attorney’s fees will likely be significant. Order Granting Reinstatement <—- Link to Judicial OrderRead More
In Florida, an at-will employee is one whose employment has no specified term and who may be terminated at the will of either party, with or without cause and with or without notice. However, an employer is not permitted to terminate an employee in violation of a state or federal statute, such as: retaliation, discrimination, or whistle blowing.Read More
Florida and federal laws govern the rights and obligations of workers and employers in the state. Several Florida laws codify federal regulations. However, conflicts in the statutes can create confusion about which law applies to a given employment circumstance. When a dispute arises, a litigant may consider whether the state or federal forum is most favorable.Read More
About Florida Whistleblower Laws Insights into Whistleblower Rights and Obligations Employees are in a unique position to know what is happening at a business. For this reason, the government encourages employees who have information about wrongdoing to come forward. In some cases whistleblowers are entitled to money a government agency recovers because of information the employee provided. In all cases of legitimate whistleblowing, the employee is protected from retaliation. Whistleblower protection does not grant an employee immunity from legitimate negative consequences, but only those related to the whistleblowing. However, businesses should be careful to document the reasons for firing an employee who is considered a whistleblower under Florida or federal law. Whistleblowing on a Private Employer An employee is protected against retaliation for reporting acts of harassment, discrimination or wage and hours violations under the Florida and federal whistleblower laws. An employer cannot make an adverse job-related decision, such as termination, demotion, pay-cut, transfer to an undesirable shift, rejection of leave requests or other action in retribution for the employee’s filing of a grievance complaint or cooperation with an investigation. Florida WhistleBlower’s Act The Florida Whistle-Blower’s Act, codified in Florida Statute §112.3187, protects Florida state employees and contractors from retaliation for exposing gross waste of funds, neglect of duty, mismanagement or legal violations that endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare. A designated whistleblower hotline allows the person reporting the wrongdoing to keep his or her identity confidential, unless disclosure becomes necessary during the investigation. However, the agency is barred from retaliating […]Read More
Jason Gunter settled a Public Sector Whistleblower case against the Lee County Government on behalf of his 7 clients. The settlement was approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners on March 5, 2013 as Lee County agreed to settle the Florida Public Sector Whistleblower case for nearly $500,000 damages in favor of Mr. Gunter’s clients. Mr. Gunter represented 7 clients who were wrongfully terminated in retaliation for participating in a government investigation regarding Lee County employees performing non-county work on county time. Mr. Gunter was pleased with the result on behalf of his clients, who, as he stated, “never should have lost their jobs to begin with.” Naples Daily News story link: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/mar/05/commissioners-agree-nearly-500000-settlement-whist/ If you have any questions about Florida’s Whistleblower laws, or Federal Whistleblower laws, or think you have been fired for blowing the whistle, call Jason Gunter at 239.334.7017 or e-mail email@example.com to see if you have an actionable case.Read More
BREAKING NEWS: Attorney Jason Gunter speaks with Fox4 News of Fort Myers and Cape Coral regarding Lee County Whistleblower case.Read More
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