Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. at Dallas v. Gentilello (Opinion)Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was whether an employee's report to a supervisor about an employer's or co-worker's "violation of law" is a report to an "appropriate law enforcement authority" under the Texas Whistleblower Act where the employee knows his supervisor's power extends only to ensuring internal compliance with the law purportedly violated. Here the supervisor, while overseeing internal adherence to the law, was empowered only to refer suspected violations elsewhere and lacked free-standing enforcement or crime-fighting authority. Plaintiff filed a whistleblower suit charging that his demotion was in retaliation for reporting the university's violations of unspecified federal patient-care and resident-supervision rules. The lower courts denied the university's plea to the jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) for a plaintiff to satisfy the Act's good-faith provision, the plaintiff must reasonably believe the reported-to authority possess the power to enforce the laws purportedly violated or prosecute suspected criminal wrongdoing; and (2) as no jurisdictionally sufficient evidence existed in this case of any objectively reasonable belief in such power, the case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.