The Supreme Court of Texas recently dismissed another whistleblower case with a narrow reading of Texas Whistleblower Act (TWA) requirements. Although the TWA offers significant protections to a tipster reporting malfeasance, a Dallas whistleblower attorney can offer counsel on how to meet the law's specific requirements.
Yusuf Farran was the Executive Director of Facilities and Transportation for the Canutillo Independent School District. Farran witnessed and reported employees stealing and falsifying time cards. He also observed that Henry's Cesspool Services, a school district contractor, was repeatedly overpaid, failed to dispose of grease-trap waste and violated state laws. When Farran reported these improprieties to supervisors, he was told that if he wanted to keep his position, he should stop making such reports. Farran ignored the warning and continued filing complaints about Henry's Cesspool Services' grease-trap issues.
In March 2009, after Farran's repeated complaints, the superintendent disciplined and suspended Farran for unrelated incidents. A few months later, the school board terminated Farran.
During the period between the suspension and termination, Farran contacted the FBI regarding Henry's Cesspool Services' conduct. After the final termination, Farran sued for breach of contract and wrongful termination under the TWA.
Understanding the Texas Whistleblower Act
The TWA prohibits government employers from taking adverse employment actions against a public employee who in good faith informed an appropriate law enforcement authority of a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee. The whistleblower who suffers such retaliation may be entitled to injunctive and compensatory relief.
Why was Farran’s whistleblowing dismissed?
The Supreme Court of Texas granted the school district’s motion to dismiss because Farran failed to show that his report to the FBI caused the adverse employment action. The court concluded that Farran did not meet his burden of showing that the school board would have reversed its decision to terminate him if he had not filed the FBI report. The court also said that his internal complaints did not constitute a report to a law enforcement authority as defined by the TWA.