First of all, we are not violating the law (see this earlier story for reference) by publishing information LEAKED to us by several employees at the University of Louisville. Those employees attempted to resolve a situation at the University but were shut out by the administration. As a result, those employees were forced to come forward to the media. We’re merely reporting based on materials provided to us by those within the University.
Employees can certainly forward their own emails to me or anyone else they so choose. To suggest that doing so in an attempt to bring to light a potential scandal within the College of Education and Human Development is illegal is hugely troubling.
If an employee at the University of Louisville attempts to disclose a violation of Kentucky law or regulation or suspected mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority, etc. to an appropriate body or authority and UofL is now threatening this employee(s), well, that’s not good for UofL.
What are these guys thinking? Where are their attorneys?
Let’s take a look at some law.
61.102 – Reprisal against public employee for disclosure of violations of law prohibited — Construction of statute.
(1) No employer shall subject to reprisal, or directly or indirectly use, or threaten to use, any official authority or influence, in any manner whatsoever, which tends to discourage, restrain, depress, dissuade, deter, prevent, interfere with, coerce, or discriminate against any employee who in good faith reports, discloses, divulges, or otherwise brings to the attention of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, the Attorney General, the Auditor of Public Accounts, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky or any of its members or employees, the Legislative Research Commission or any of its committees, members or employees, the judiciary or any member or employee of the judiciary, any law enforcement agency or its employees, or any other appropriate body or authority, any facts or information relative to an actual or suspected violation of any law, statute, executive order, administrative regulation, mandate, rule, or ordinance of the United States, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, or any of its political subdivisions, or any facts or information relative to actual or suspected mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. No employer shall require any employee to give notice prior to making such a report, disclosure, or divulgence.
(2) No employer shall subject to reprisal or discriminate against, or use any official authority or influence to cause reprisal or discrimination by others against, any person who supports, aids, or substantiates any employee who makes public any wrongdoing set forth in subsection (1) of this section.
(3) This section shall not be construed as:
(a) Prohibiting an employer from requiring that an employee inform him of an official request made to an agency for information, or the substance of testimony made, or to be made, by the employee to legislators on behalf of an agency;
(b) Permitting the employee to leave his assigned work area during normal work hours without following applicable law, administrative regulations, rules, or policies pertaining to leave, unless the employee is requested by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission to appear before the commission, or by a legislator or a legislative committee to appear before a legislative committee;
(c) Authorizing an employee to represent his personal opinions as the opinions of his employer; or
(d) Prohibiting disciplinary or punitive action if an employee discloses information which he knows:
1. To be false or which he discloses with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity;
2. To be exempt from required disclosure under the provisions of KRS 61.870 to 61.884; or
3. Is confidential under any other provision of law.
Here’s some info about the Whistleblower Protection Act:
A federal agency violates the Whistleblower Protection Act if it takes or fails to take (or threatens to take or fail to take) a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant because of any disclosure of information by the employee or applicant that he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
There could actually be serious criminal penalties for willfully violating the Whistleblower Act, as the administration at the University of Louisville may, indeed, be doing. A plaintiff could also seek punitive damages in civil court.
61.990 – Penalties
1) Any person who exercises any of the functions of a nonelective peace officer or deputy peace officer in violation of the provisions of KRS 61.300 shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500), or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both.
(2) Any person who violates any of the provisions of KRS 61.360 shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) or be imprisoned not less than ten (10) days nor more than sixty (60) days, or both.
(3) Any person who willfully violates the provisions of KRS 61.102(1) shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(4) A court, in rendering a judgment in an action filed under KRS 61.102 and 61.103, shall order, as it considers appropriate, reinstatement of the employee, the payment of back wages, full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights, exemplary or punitive damages, or any combination thereof. A court may also award the complainant all or a portion of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees and witness fees.
Wanna play, UofL? Because we’ll play. We’ll direct your employees to lawyer up and sue. We’ll also sue you for defaming our character and integrity. We’ll also try this in the court of public opinion if you wish to maintain the culture of fear and intimidation at the University which currently exists.
This all boils down to the fact that the school over which Robert Felner presided is in absolute turmoil. This entire scandal at the University of Louisville is all connected and points back to him. This is major.
Notice to faculty, staff and students at the University of Louisville: If you are experiencing retaliation or threats as a result of providing very important information to the press, please get in touch with us. We’ll connect you with plaintiff’s lawyers.