2020 Georgia Code
Title 45 - Public Officers and Employees
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
§ 45-1-4. Complaints or Information From Public Employees as to Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in State Programs and Operations
- As used in this Code section, the term:
- "Government agency" means any agency of federal, state, or local government charged with the enforcement of laws, rules, or regulations.
- "Law, rule, or regulation" includes any federal, state, or local statute or ordinance or any rule or regulation adopted according to any federal, state, or local statute or ordinance.
- "Public employee" means any person who is employed by the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the state or by any other department, board, bureau, commission, authority, or other agency of the state. This term also includes all employees, officials, and administrators of any agency covered by the rules of the State Personnel Board and any local or regional governmental entity that receives any funds from the State of Georgia or any state agency.
- "Public employer" means the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the state; any other department, board, bureau, commission, authority, or other agency of the state which employs or appoints a public employee or public employees; or any local or regional governmental entity that receives any funds from the State of Georgia or any state agency.
- "Retaliate" or "retaliation" refers to the discharge, suspension, or demotion by a public employer of a public employee or any other adverse employment action taken by a public employer against a public employee in the terms or conditions of employment for disclosing a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation to either a supervisor or government agency.
- "Supervisor" means any individual:
- To whom a public employer has given authority to direct and control the work performance of the affected public employee;
- To whom a public employer has given authority to take corrective action regarding a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation of which the public employee complains; or
- Who has been designated by a public employer to receive complaints regarding a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation.
- A public employer may receive and investigate complaints or information from any public employee concerning the possible existence of any activity constituting fraud, waste, and abuse in or relating to any state programs and operations under the jurisdiction of such public employer.
- Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, such public employer shall not after receipt of a complaint or information from a public employee disclose the identity of the public employee without the written consent of such public employee, unless the public employer determines such disclosure is necessary and unavoidable during the course of the investigation. In such event, the public employee shall be notified in writing at least seven days prior to such disclosure.
- No public employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any policy or practice preventing a public employee from disclosing a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation to either a supervisor or a government agency.
- No public employer shall retaliate against a public employee for disclosing a violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation to either a supervisor or a government agency, unless the disclosure was made with knowledge that the disclosure was false or with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.
- No public employer shall retaliate against a public employee for objecting to, or refusing to participate in, any activity, policy, or practice of the public employer that the public employee has reasonable cause to believe is in violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation.
- Paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this subsection shall not apply to policies or practices which implement, or to actions by public employers against public employees who violate, privilege or confidentiality obligations recognized by constitutional, statutory, or common law.
- A public employee who has been the object of retaliation in violation of this Code section may institute a civil action in superior court for relief as set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection within one year after discovering the retaliation or within three years after the retaliation, whichever is earlier.
- In any action brought pursuant to this subsection, the court may order any or all of the following relief:
- An injunction restraining continued violation of this Code section;
- Reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the retaliation or to an equivalent position;
- Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights;
- Compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other remuneration; and
- Any other compensatory damages allowable at law.
- A court may award reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and expenses to a prevailing public employee.
(Code 1981, §45-1-4, enacted by Ga. L. 1993, p. 563, § 1; Ga. L. 2005, p. 899, § 1/HB 665; Ga. L. 2007, p. 298, § 1/HB 16; Ga. L. 2009, p. 745, § 2/SB 97; Ga. L. 2012, p. 446, § 2-66/HB 642.)Cross references.
- Reprisals prohibited against community service board, § 37-2-6.Editor's notes.
- Ga. L. 2012, p. 446, § 3-1/HB 642, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "Personnel, equipment, and facilities that were assigned to the State Personnel Administration as of June 30, 2012, shall be transferred to the Department of Administrative Services on the effective date of this Act." This Act became effective July 1, 2012.
Ga. L. 2012, p. 446, § 3-2/HB 642, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "Appropriations for functions which are transferred by this Act may be transferred as provided in Code Section 45-12-90."Law reviews.
- For annual survey of administrative law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 31 (2004). For annual survey of labor and employment law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 291 (2004). For survey article on local government law, see 59 Mercer L. Rev. 285 (2007). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 64 Mercer L. Rev. 173 (2012). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 66 Mercer L. Rev. 121 (2014). For article, "Georgia's Public Whistleblower Statute," see 20 Ga. St. Bar J. 8 (April 2015). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 141 (2017). For annual survey on local government law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 205 (2017). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 70 Mercer L. Rev. 125 (2018). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 71 Mercer L. Rev. 137 (2019). For note on 2007 amendment of this Code section, see 24 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 309 (2007).JUDICIAL DECISIONS
- General Consideration
- Georgia Court of Appeals erred by inappropriately grafting the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(b) onto subsection (d) and then defining the types of state programs or operations that would allegedly have to be involved in order for a public employee to present a viable claim for retaliation under subsection (d); by inserting the terms of subsection (b) into subsection (d), and then defining those inapplicable terms with language that does not exist, the court engaged erroneously in rewriting the statute. Colon v. Fulton County, 294 Ga. 93, 751 S.E.2d 307 (2013), overruled on other grounds, Rivera v. Washington, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 248 (Ga. 2016).
Adverse employment action under Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, was held to mean employment action analogous to or of a similar kind or class as discharge, suspension, or demotion. Franklin v. Pitts, 349 Ga. App. 544, 826 S.E.2d 427 (2019).
Georgia Court of Appeals held that Burlington standard for retaliation cases should not be applied to the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4. Franklin v. Pitts, 349 Ga. App. 544, 826 S.E.2d 427 (2019).
Georgia Court of Appeals overruled Freeman v. Smith, 324 Ga. App. 426 (2013) to the extent that the case applied the standard for an adverse employment action in Title VII retaliation cases to a Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, case; specifically, the portion of Freeman holding that the employee need only show that a reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially adverse, meaning that it might well have dissuaded a reasonable employee from making a statutorily-protected disclosure. Franklin v. Pitts, 349 Ga. App. 544, 826 S.E.2d 427 (2019).Programs or operations covered by section.
- O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 applies to any state programs or operations, including those state programs over which an agency has administrative jurisdiction that are less than state-wide in scope. Weaver v. North Ga. Reg'l Educ. Serv. Agency, 243 Ga. App. 770, 534 S.E.2d 463 (2000), reversing Weaver v. North Ga. Regional Educ. Serv. Agency, 238 Ga. App. 72, 517 S.E.2d 794 (1999).Discovery of retaliation.
- As to a former employee's claim under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, the employee "discovered the retaliation" on April 7, 2005, when the employee received a supervisor's letter of termination or, at the very least, no later than August 10, 2005, when defendant university president affirmed the supervisor's decision to terminate the employee. The claim was untimely under § 45-1-4(e)(1), as the employee filed suit November 14, 2006, some 15 months later. Stokes v. Savannah State Univ., 291 Fed. Appx. 931 (11th Cir. 2008)(Unpublished).Ante litem notice not required.
- City employee who filed suit under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, seeking money damages, among other remedies, was not required to provide written notice of the employee's claim within six months of the alleged retaliation under the municipal ante litem notice statute, O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5, because the claim was not a negligence claim. West v. City of Albany, 300 Ga. 743, 797 S.E.2d 809 (2017).Timing of filing grievance.
- Whistleblower suit by a county employee who filed a grievance after the employee was moved from a private office to a cubicle was timely filed under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(e)(1) because the grievance was filed within a year of the date the employee learned that the employee had been relieved of certain duties, although these duties had been removed two months earlier. Franklin v. Eaves, 337 Ga. App. 292, 787 S.E.2d 265 (2016).Retroactivity of amendments to statute.
- Three-year statute of limitations that was added to the Georgia Whistleblower Act (GWA) in 2005 in O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(e)(1) is prospective in nature; thus, a port authority officer's GWA claim, which related to the officer's 2004 discharge, was not affected by the amendment. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 18, 2006).
New remedies under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(e)(2) and (f), which were added by a 2005 amendment to the Georgia Whistleblower Act (GWA), § 45-1-4, do not apply retroactively; thus, a port authority officer who asserted claims under the GWA in connection with the officer's 2004 discharge was limited to the remedies provided by the GWA as the GWA existed in 2004. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 18, 2006).Elements of claim.
- It is not enough that a state employer had a policy of stamping out internal dissent; a plaintiff under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, must allege that the plaintiff dissented and was thereby stamped. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1272 (S.D. Ga. 2007).Burden of proof.
- McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis used in Title VII retaliation cases is appropriately utilized in the context of evaluating whether a state whistle-blower claim is subject to summary adjudication, and this analytical framework is in no way inconsistent with the holding that circumstantial evidence may preclude summary judgment in these cases because the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis rightly places on the plaintiff the ultimate burden of proving that he or she was the victim of discrimination; therefore, the following analytical framework is applied to claims brought pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(d)(2): (1) the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of retaliation by a preponderance of the evidence, (2) if a prima facie case is established by the plaintiff, the employer must, nevertheless, articulate a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the adverse employment action taken, and (3) when such a reason is given by the employer, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the stated reason for the employer's adverse action is pretextual. Forrester v. Ga. Dep't of Human Servs., 308 Ga. App. 716, 708 S.E.2d 660 (2011).
Trial court did not err in granting the city's motion for summary judgment on a former employee's whistleblower claim because the former employee failed to show that the reason for termination was pretextual as the city provided evidence, much of which the former employee did not dispute, that the former employee approved duplicate wire transfers only weeks prior to termination and made a threatening phone call to another from a city phone. Tuohy v. City of Atlanta, 331 Ga. App. 846, 771 S.E.2d 501 (2015).
In a retaliation claim under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, summary judgment was properly granted to the city as the city's chief operating officer (COO) terminated the former employee because dozens of other employees reported that the former employee was threatening and abusive to subordinates, showed nude photographs of an employee to other employees, and the former employee was untruthful with the Department of Human Resources during the investigation and the former employee lied about possessing the city's laptop computer; the reasons cited by the COO constituted legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for termination; and the former employee did not show that each proffered reason for the former employee's termination was pretextual. Harris v. City of Atlanta, 345 Ga. App. 375, 813 S.E.2d 420 (2018), cert. denied, No. S18C1084, 2018 Ga. LEXIS 690 (Ga. 2018).Monetary damages remedy.
- Georgia Whistle Blower Statute (Act), O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, does not provide a remedy of monetary damages for public employees as: (1) the legislature did not specifically include a monetary damages remedy, such as the remedy provided by the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act, specifically O.C.G.A. § 45-19-38(c); (2) the limitations of statutes waiving sovereign immunity have to be strictly followed; and (3) to "set aside" an action, the language used in the Act, consistent with the accepted definition of "set aside," requires the action to be vacated, cancelled, and annulled. Hughes v. Ga. Dep't of Corr., 267 Ga. App. 440, 600 S.E.2d 383 (2004).
Because a former agency employee's claims under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 were limited to claims for reinstatement, and did not include monetary damages, the claims were consistent with the relief authorized by the statute; the employee's former superiors failed to show that the requirements of the Tort Claims Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-21-20 et seq. had been incorporated into the Whistleblower law. Moore v. Gabriel, F. Supp. 2d (M.D. Ga. Dec. 15, 2005).Persons authorized to receive complaints.
- Supervisor who could officially evaluate agency employees and thus take or recommend adverse personnel action against them was operating at that level of management authorized to receive potential fraud, waste, and abuse complaints and information on behalf of the agency. Weaver v. North Ga. Reg'l Educ. Serv. Agency, 243 Ga. App. 770, 534 S.E.2d 463 (2000), reversing Weaver v. North Ga. Regional Educ. Serv. Agency, 238 Ga. App. 72, 517 S.E.2d 794 (1999).Must be employee at time of retaliation.
- Grant of summary judgment to the state commission was affirmed because the plaintiff was not an employee at the time the commission's purported retaliatory acts occurred and the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, clearly mandated that its provisions related to retaliation against a person "who is employed" at the time of the alleged retaliation. Murray-Obertein v. Ga. Gov't Transparency & Campaign Fin. Comm'n, 344 Ga. App. 677, 812 S.E.2d 28 (2018).Res judicata did not bar state law claim.
- Trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the basis of res judicata as to the plaintiff's claim of constructive discharge under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, because the doctrine of res judicata did not apply as there was not an identity of causes of action in both the federal and Georgia cases. Rintoul v. Tolbert, 341 Ga. App. 688, 802 S.E.2d 56 (2017).Judicial estoppel did not bar claim.
- Judicial estoppel did not bar a county employee's whistleblower claim against the county; although the employee did not include the employee's claim in the employee's Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing in 2013, the claim did not arise until 2015, and the employee amended the employee's schedule to include the claim prior to the employee's bankruptcy proceeding being discharged, dismissed, or otherwise adjudicated. Ward-Poag v. Fulton County, 351 Ga. App. 325, 830 S.E.2d 799 (2019).Statute of limitations.
- Medical research assistant's 2013 suit against the assistant's former employers alleging wrongful termination in 2004 and 2005 were barred by the statutes of limitations applicable to the assistant's claims under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, and the False Claims Act of 1986, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h). Abreu-Velez v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., F.3d (11th Cir. Dec. 7, 2015), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 1838, 194 L. Ed. 2d 830 (U.S. 2016)(Unpublished).Failure to show termination was pretext.
- In a Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, claim, an employee failed to produce evidence raising a question of fact that the employee's supervisor did not honestly believe the reports the supervisor received that the employee had made misrepresentations on multiple occasions; therefore, the employee's termination for the misrepresentations was not pretextual. Dimino v. Ga. Dep't of Admin. Servs., F. Supp. 2d (N.D. Ga. Mar. 23, 2015).
Cited in Campbell v. Cirrus Education, Inc., 355 Ga. App. 637, 845 S.E.2d 384 (2020).
Eleventh Amendment immunity.
- Plaintiff former employee's Georgia Whistleblower Act claim, filed against defendant former employer state college, failed due to Eleventh Amendment immunity, and the employee knew for years that the employee potentially named the incorrect party and acknowledged the employee might have to name an official capacity defendant, yet the employee failed to move timely to amend. Brandenburg v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., F.3d (11th Cir. Apr. 24, 2013)(Unpublished).Waiver of sovereign immunity.
- Right of action provided in the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, is a waiver of the State of Georgia's sovereign immunity independent of the waiver in the Georgia Tort Claims Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-21-20 et seq. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 18, 2006).
Personal use of a copier.
- Plaintiff employee's report to a supervisor that plaintiff thought another employee was making personal use of a copier constituted making a complaint or providing information as to the possible existence of an activity constituting fraud, waste, and abuse. Weaver v. North Ga. Reg'l Educ. Serv. Agency, 243 Ga. App. 770, 534 S.E.2d 463 (2000), reversing Weaver v. North Ga. Regional Educ. Serv. Agency, 238 Ga. App. 72, 517 S.E.2d 794 (1999).Persons to whom O.C.G.A.
§ 45-1-4 applies. - O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 applies solely to persons employed in state government. By its terms, it does not apply to persons who work in the Governor's office, the General Assembly, the judicial branch of state government, or any local unit of government. North Ga. Reg'l Educ. Serv. Agency v. Weaver, 272 Ga. 289, 527 S.E.2d 864 (2000), reversing Weaver v. North Ga. Regional Educ. Serv. Agency, 238 Ga. App. 72, 517 S.E.2d 794 (1999).Port police officer.
- Former port police officer's Georgia Whistleblower Act claim was governed by the version of O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 that was in effect prior to July 1, 2005 because the officer was discharged in 2004; the officer's claim failed because the information that the officer was allegedly discharged for conveying was related to a member of Georgia's Homeland Security Task Force, rather than the officer's employer, the Georgia Ports Authority. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1272 (S.D. Ga. 2007).Port authority's rules on phone number disclosures.
- Port authority officer who alleged that the officer was discharged after the officer complained that the port authority had serious security problems was not entitled to a declaratory judgment stating that the port authority's rule prohibiting employees from divulging the phone numbers of coworkers violated O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 because the port authority's rule put a restriction on the disclosure of phone numbers, not the disclosure of rule violations. Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 18, 2006).Termination for commonly known issues.
- In the employees' action alleging that the employees were terminated from a county department of children and family services (DFCS) for reporting the unlawful conduct of a coworker in violation of the whistle-blower statute, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(d)(2), the employees failed to establish that the employees engaged in whistle-blowing because, to the extent that the employees claimed to have disclosed something that was already widely known (and even joked about), that was not the type of communication encompassed by the whistle-blower statute; the employees all testified in the employees' depositions that the coworker's illnesses and excuses were a "running joke" with DFCS directors, that everybody (employees and directors included) knew about the coworker's abuse of prescription drugs, and that the coworker's chronic absenteeism and drug use were discussed at the office on a daily basis. Forrester v. Ga. Dep't of Human Servs., 308 Ga. App. 716, 708 S.E.2d 660 (2011).Suit involving military service barred by intra-military doctrine.
- Trial court properly dismissed a former brigadier general's suit against the Georgia National Guard for wrongful termination in violation of the whistleblower statute, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(e)(1), because the suit was barred by the intra-military affairs doctrine since the complaint arose out of activities incident to military service. Dudney v. State of Ga. DOD, 322 Ga. App. 464, 745 S.E.2d 713 (2013).Regional agencies not covered.
- Regional educational service agencies are not state agencies and, therefore, are not public employers under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4. North Ga. Reg'l Educ. Serv. Agency v. Weaver, 272 Ga. 289, 527 S.E.2d 864 (2000), reversing Weaver v. North Ga. Regional Educ. Serv. Agency, 238 Ga. App. 72, 517 S.E.2d 794 (1999).Employment as grandfathered pharmacist.
- Trial court erred in dismissing a public employee's Georgia Whistle Blower Statute, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, suit as moot as: (1) the employer, the Georgia Department of Corrections, continued to employ grandfathered pharmacists according to an affidavit submitted under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-43; (2) the employee had been a grandfathered pharmacist while employed by the Department; and (3) the appellate court saw no reason, but for the alleged retaliatory action, that the employee would not remain employed as a pharmacist with the Department; the employee's retirement from the Department made the matter moot only if the employee did not want to return to work or could not because the employee was past the mandatory retirement age, but these facts were not apparent from the stipulation that the employee had retired. Hughes v. Ga. Dep't of Corr., 267 Ga. App. 440, 600 S.E.2d 383 (2004).Activity must concern law, rule, or regulation.
- When a port authority officer alleged that the officer was discharged after the officer complained that the port authority was violating its own rules and the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Act, O.C.G.A. § 35-8-1 et seq., the officer stated a cognizable claim under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(a)(2), (d)(2). Pattee v. Ga. Ports Auth., 477 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 18, 2006).Allegations of safety concerns failed to allege violation of law, rule, or regulation.
- A university professor failed to state a claim under the Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, because the professor's allegations that the professor voiced concerns over lab safety at the university did not show that the professor disclosed any violation of a "law, rule, or regulation" as required under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(a)(2). Edmonds v. Bd. of Regents, 302 Ga. App. 1, 689 S.E.2d 352 (2009), cert. denied, No. S10C0824, 2010 Ga. LEXIS 437 (Ga. 2010), overruled on other grounds by Wolfe v. Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 300 Ga. 223, 794 S.E.2d 85 (Ga. 2016).Failure to allege violation of law, rule, or regulation.
- Whistle-blower claim failed because the employee did not complain that there was a violation or non-compliance with any law, rule, or regulation. Brathwaite v. Fulton-DeKalb Hosp. Auth., 317 Ga. App. 111, 729 S.E.2d 625 (2012).Chief of police's belief that employer's activity is illegal is sufficient.
- Public college's chief of police who objected to the college administration's directive that the chief speak with the district attorney about having the charges against a suspected laptop thief dropped reasonably believed that the chief was objecting to illegal conduct, obstruction of justice under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-24(a), and this was protected activity under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(d)(3) of the whistleblower statute. Albers v. Ga. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 330 Ga. App. 58, 766 S.E.2d 520 (2014).Jury determines if reprisal action was taken.
- Board of Regents was not entitled to summary judgment on the employee's claim under O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, the "whistleblower" statute, because a jury issue existed regarding whether "action" was taken against the employee for purposes of § 45-1-4; the record contained at least some circumstantial evidence that the employee was dismissed in reprisal for the employee's investigation into the university's officers and for disclosing information of fraud in connection with the investigation. Jones v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 262 Ga. App. 75, 585 S.E.2d 138 (2003).Failure to make out prima facie case of retaliation.
- Trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Georgia Department of Human Services in the employees' action alleging that the employees were terminated from a county department of children and family services for reporting the unlawful conduct of a coworker in violation of the whistle-blower statute, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(d)(2), because, although there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employees made protected disclosures to a supervisor, the employees could not show a causal connection between a protected disclosure and the adverse employment action taken against the employees; the employees presented no evidence that the actual decision-maker knew about the employees' disclosures to the supervisor about the coworker or that the supervisor personally had any role in the employees' termination other than to deliver the message of the employees' dismissals, and mere guesses and speculation were all that the employees presented in support of a causal connection between those disclosures and the employees' subsequent terminations. Forrester v. Ga. Dep't of Human Servs., 308 Ga. App. 716, 708 S.E.2d 660 (2011).
In a wrongful termination case, the trial court erred by failing to grant the motion for summary judgment filed by the employer because the only evidence the employee presented of a causal connection was the temporal proximity between the disclosures and the adverse actions; but the only action that occurred less than three months after the disclosures were not materially adverse and the employee did not even allege that the person who took the action knew of the protected disclosures. Freeman v. Smith, 324 Ga. App. 426, 750 S.E.2d 739 (2013), overruled on other grounds by Franklin v. Pitts, 349 Ga. App. 544, 826 S.E.2d 427 (2019).
Former police officer's retaliation claim against a city failed under summary judgment because the officer did not produce evidence of a causal connection as to one adverse employment action, another adverse action was only at most a petty, slight, or minor annoyance and, in any event, the officer had not shown pretext as to the city's proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the city's actions. Cobb v. City of Roswell, F.3d (11th Cir. Aug. 12, 2013)(Unpublished).
In the plaintiffs' suit alleging that the defendant terminated their employment, in violation of Georgia's Whistleblower Statute, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, summary judgment was properly granted to the defendant as the plaintiffs failed to establish prima facie cases of retaliation because the plaintiffs, in making their complaints regarding short-staffing, identified only internal operating procedures for staffing requirements as the basis for their concerns; the plaintiffs did not disclose a violation or failure to comply with any law, rule, or regulation prior to their termination; and the plaintiffs did not object to or refuse to participate in an activity, policy, or practice which the plaintiffs reasonably believed to be in violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule, or regulation. Coward v. MCG Health, Inc., 342 Ga. App. 316, 802 S.E.2d 396 (2017).
Because a former captain in a state prison did not disclose to the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections the aspect of the confidential operation that the captain contended was unlawful, and the only person aware of the captain's objection about the lack of written authorization to provide an inmate with a cell phone was the warden, who was no longer employed at the prison when the captain was fired and who did not have a role or input in the decision to fire the captain, the trial evidence viewed most favorably to the captain did not show that the Department fired the captain in retaliation for protected objections or disclosures under the Georgia Whistleblower Act. Maine v. Dep't of Corr., 355 Ga. App. 707, 845 S.E.2d 736 (2020).Insubordination as relevant factor.
- Decision granting summary judgment to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on a former administrative assistant's (AA) Georgia Whistleblower Act claim was proper as the former AA failed to establish that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the reason for the former AA's termination; the board submitted direct evidence that the former AA's termination was based on insubordinate behavior during an exchange with a college president, but the former AA failed to present any evidence contradicting the occurrence of the dispute between the former AA and the president. Caldon v. Bd. of Regents of the Do-016 Univ. Sys. of Ga., 311 Ga. App. 155, 715 S.E.2d 487 (2011).Retaliation against public employees.
- Trial court did not err by denying the city's motions for a directed verdict because there were conflicts in the evidence as to material issues of the matter, which were questions for the jury to resolve, and the court determined that the city had retaliated against the public employees under O.C.G.A. Ý 45-1-4, thus, there was no basis to grant the motions. City of Pendergrass v. Rintoul, 354 Ga. App. 618, 841 S.E.2d 399 (2020).OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Assuming applicability of O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 to the Georgia National Guard, referral of a member's complaint of fraud, waste or other abuse to a commanding officer, and by that officer to an investigator, was not a prohibited disclosure, and disciplinary action could be taken against a member who knowingly submitted false reports. 1996 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 96-15.
- Pre-emption by workers' compensation statute of employee's remedy under state "whistleblower" statute, 20 A.L.R.5th 677.
Who are "public employers" or "public employees" within the meaning of state whistleblower protection acts, 90 A.L.R.5th 687.
What constitutes activity of employee protected under state whistleblower protection statute covering employee's "report," "disclosure," "notification," or the like of wrongdoing - Sufficiency of report, 10 A.L.R.6th 531.
What constitutes activity of employee, other than "reporting" wrongdoing, protected under state whistleblower protection statute, 13 A.L.R.6th 499.
What constitutes activity of private-sector employee protected under state whistleblower protection statute covering employee's "report," "disclosure," "notification," or the like of wrongdoing - nature of activity reported, 36 A.L.R.6th 203.
What constitutes activity of public or state employee protected under state whistleblower protection statute covering employee's "report," "disclosure," "notification," or the like of wrongdoing - nature of activity reported, 37 A.L.R.6th 137.
Prohibition, by Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, of reprisals against civil service whistleblowers (5 USCS § 2302(b)(8)), 124 A.L.R. Fed. 381.
Construction and application of whistleblower provision of Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 1514A(a)(1), 15 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 315.