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 Order