Ohio Supreme Court Decides Whistleblower Statute Does Not Protect Governmental Employees Who Report Third-Party Violations.
Ohio's general "whistleblower" statute, R.C. 4113.52, protects employees from discipline, including termination, if they discover and report suspected felonies, among other things, by their employer during the course of their employment. What if, however, a local governmental employee discovers and reports felonies by a company over which the local government has jurisdiction? Is the reporting employee a whistleblower under R.C. 4113.52? No is the answer according to the Ohio Supreme Court. The issue is whether the employee reported crimes by his own employer, not by a third-party. The plaintiff’s wrongful termination in violation of public policy claim was not addressed by the Court. The appellate court had reversed summary judgment for the employer on the whistleblower claim but (incorrectly, in my opinion) affirmed summary judgment on the wrongful termination claim based on a failure to satisfy the jeopardy element, on the grounds that the plaintiff had an adequate remedy under the whistleblower statute. The Ohio Supreme Court chose not to accept an appeal from the court of appeals' wrongful termination decision.