Whistleblowers are protected by the law even if they are the law

There is something to be said for the whistleblowers of the world. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they may catch hell from both sides.

This is an interesting story involving a deputy jailer, who feels he was retaliated against for conducting an investigation into alleged corruption at a county detention center. Some of his findings, which appeared in his report, included the discovery that contraband smuggling was almost a way of life in the facility, and that there was a deputy having intimate relations with an inmate. This particular case happened in Kentucky, but it could easily happen in any other state, including Ohio.

Bound by duty and a strong moral code, the deputy jailer filed a lawsuit asking for protection and damages under Kentucky’s Whistleblower Act. He is further seeking lost benefits, and punitive and compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs. The Kentucky Whistleblower Act, like most whistleblower legislation in other states, bans retaliation against workers who report bad conditions or practices occurring in their workplaces.

Named in the lawsuit was the head jailer, who was accused of not properly investigating the claims made by the deputy jailer and who demoted the deputy jailer after he passed the serious information in his report on to the Kentucky State Police. As part of the statement of claim, the deputy jailer stated the chief jailer told him to put a lid on the investigation, telling him he wanted no part of the report in any way, shape or form. Shortly after the report was handed in, the deputy jailer began to receive disciplinary write-ups and was subsequently stripped of his investigator duties and demoted to a floor deputy.

In Kentucky, the whistleblower law does not dictate that an individual with serious concerns, like the ones in this case, follow the chain of command. Even though he attempted to do so, he was made painfully aware that the deputies at the local jail repeatedly turned a blind-eye to smuggling. Based on the nature of the report filed by the deputy jailer, and his further observations and allegations, the State Police launched an investigation into the facility.

They were less than impressed with the jailer who was having sexual relations with a female inmate – a flagrant violation of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. Interestingly, the jailer accused of having sex with an inmate, even though later cleared of the allegation, was ultimately fired when he refused to resign. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

If you are in a situation where you see something illegal going on around you, reach out and contact an experienced Ohio whistleblower attorney. These cases are difficult and you will want to know what will happen when you file suit and what the possible outcome may be.

Tom Robenalt is a Cleveland, Ohio whistleblower attorney To learn more, visit Christophermellino.com.

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