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Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Whistleblower Complaint Dismissed in Texas

TX Supreme CourtYusuf Farran, Executive Director of Facilities and Transportation with the Canutillo Independent School District, claims that he observed employee theft and falsification of time cars.  He also claimed that the School District overpaid a contractor, Henry's Cesspool Services (kudos to you Henry for an honest description fo your business!).  Farran complained to his supervisors about the contractor's failures to properly dispose of grease-trap waste.  He allegedly was told to stop making any more complaints relating to the grease trap.

In March 2009, the School District first suspended and then fired Farran for unrelated reasons.   While suspsended and while his termination was pending, Farran contacted the FBI to complain about Henry's Cesspool Services.  When his termination was finalized, Farran brought a claim for breach of contract and wrongful termination in violation of Texas's Whistleblower Act.  

On August 3oth, the Supreme Court of Texas dismissed Farran's complaint in Canutillo Independent School District v. Farran. "To establish a Whistleblower Act claim, the plaintiff must show that his report to a law enforcement authority caused him to suffer the complained-of adverse personnel action."  Unfortunately for Farran, he contacted the FBI after he had already been warned to stop complaining about the grease trap and after he had been suspended and was due to be terminated.  Farran bore the burden of showing that, but for the FBI report, the School District would have reversed course and reinstated him, but he could not do so.  There was no evidence that the FBI report played a role in his termination.  

The Texas Supreme Court also affirmed dismissal of Farran's breach of contract claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Farran thought he did not need to do so because his breach of contract claim related to his Whistleblower act claim.

[JT]

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