A very recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling appears to weaken the rights of some government employees who are fired or experience retaliation for some whistle blowing actions. However, there is still a legal basis to consider legal action when a governmental agency fires or mistreats the good civil servant who puts the spotlight on bad conduct.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Utilities Commissioners approved a $250,000 settlement with Rob Hunter, the utility’s former telecommunications director who filed a federal lawsuit in July for wrongful termination.
Neither the utility nor Hunter are commenting on the agreement because its terms state neither party can make “disparaging or derogatory publications or statements” about Hunter’s employment or termination or seek publicity regarding the terms, amount, or condition of the settlement, Utilities Commission attorney Bill Preston said.
In his lawsuit, Hunter had claimed his First Amendment rights to free speech were violated because former utility director Genny Turano fired him in 2005 after he spoke publicly about an audit report showing a $3.5 million telecom division loss.
Citing the Florida Whistle Blower Act for public employees, he also said he was fired after he refused to participate in concealing that Turano had erroneously paid $128,000 to a company called V-Star.