WHISTLEBLOWER LAW-REPORT TO PENNDOT-PRIMA FACIE CASE

December 18th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

Greco v. Myers Coach Lines, Inc., 2018 Pa. Super. 306 (November 15, 2018) Ott, J.  Myers Coach Lines appealed from the judgment of $2,400 in a wrongful discharge case pursuant to the Whistleblower Law.  43 P.S. §§ 1421-1428.  The court vacated the judgment and remanded for entry of JNOV in favor of Myers Coach.  The claim was that of a firing due to a safety report to PennDOT.  Also asserted was a common law claim of wrongful discharge.  The first question is, what is “wrongdoing” as defined by the law?  

In order to prove a violation of the Whistleblower Law, Greco must demonstrate she made a report of some action by her employer or its agent, which, if proven, would constitute a violation of a law or regulation.  Moreover, the report must be of an actual violation, not a potential or contemplated violation.  It is for that reason Greco’s Whistleblower Law claim fails.

Therefore, while her superiors expressed their dissatisfaction with the regulations, and their skepticism regarding her interpretation of those reguolations, such actions do not constitute a “wrongdoing.”

According to her own testimnony, Greco did not make a report of a “wrongdoing.”

Additionally, with regard to her superiors at Myers Coach, Greco failed to establish she reported a “wrongdoing” to them.  Grego never reported this contemplated “wrongdoing” by her employer to anyone.

Consequently, we are compelled to conclude Greco failed to establish a violation of the Whistleblower Law based on Myers Coach’s termination of her employment.  Although we agree with Greco that Myers Coach should have been grateful for her persistence in preventing one of its school bus drivers from taking the road when it may have been unsafe for him to do so, we find we are constrained by the language of the Law.  Indeed, while it seems reasonable that the Whistleblower Law should protect an employee who, as here, preemptively prevented its employer from committing a violation of the law, the judicial decisions applying the statute do not permit such an interpretation under the facts of this case.

We conclude Greco’s termination in the present case, assuming it was based solely on her inquiries to PennDOT concerning Berardinelli’s eligibility to return to work, does not violate any of the limited “public policy” exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, which have been recognized by the courts of this Commonwealth.  Accordingly, while we may agree Greco’s employer acted vindictively, and exhibited poor business judgment, we find Greco is entitled to no relief with regard to her cause of action for common law wrongful discharge.

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