Plaintiff brought suit against her former employer under Louisiana’s Whistleblower Statute, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated for reporting unsafe work equipment to management and corporate headquarters. Defendant filed an exception of no cause of action, arguing that plaintiff was terminated for failing to follow the proper procedure of reporting the unsafe condition, and that plaintiff did not engage in protected activity under the Whistleblower Statute. Plaintiff argued that her termination was actually in retribution of reporting defendant’s violation of state law, which requires employers to provide reasonably safe employment for all employees. The trial court granted the exception, and plaintiff appealed.
The Whistleblower Statute protects employees against reprisal from employers for reporting or refusing to participate in illegal work practices. To prevail under the statute, the plaintiff must establish an actual violation of state law. Here, plaintiff made only conclusory allegations that an unsafe work condition existed. The appellate court noted that not every imperfection or irregularity creates an unreasonable risk in violation of applicable state law. Plaintiff made an internal complaint to her supervisors and to the corporate office about the alleged unsafe work condition. In response, defendant did not require that plaintiff continue to operate that equipment and agreed to even have it repaired. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision, finding that these facts did not rise to the level of reporting an actual violation of state law as contemplated by the Whistleblower Statute.
Causey v. Winn-Dixie Logistics, Inc. (La. App. 1 Cir. 2015)