Whistleblower Case Brought by Employee
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recognizes that an employee who brings a claim against his employer under the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law can hold his employer liable where the employee’s good-faith report of wrongdoing resulted in a retaliatory demotion.
In O’Rourke v. Commonwealth, 566 Pa. 161 (2001), the appellant O’Rourke was employed by the appellee, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“Department”). During his employment, O’Rourke became aware of a scheme where thousands of pounds of meat products were being stolen from the culinary department. In response, O’Rourke filed a report regarding this activity of wrongdoing and charged various workers and supervisors with theft and mismanagement. Shortly after transmitting his report, O’Rourke began experiencing a hostile working environment and was demoted from his position at the Department.
The Court ruled that the Department failed to prove that its actions occurred for reasons separate from O’Rourke’s report of wrongdoing, and failed to rebut O’Rourke’s prima facie case. Therefore, O’Rourke was entitled to compensation pursuant to the state’s whistleblower law.