On October 3, 2018, the National Whistleblower Center (“NWC”) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Brandon Eller, an Idaho State Police (“ISP”) detective who blew the whistle on the cover-up of another deputy’s dangerous actions. A crash reconstructionist, Eller testified that a fellow officer was negligent when he was involved in a fatal crash during a 911 call. When it became known that Eller had blown the whistle on a fellow deputy, he was subjected to severe retaliation including attacks on his character and retaliation on the job. The retaliation he suffered affected his career and his livelihood.
In its “friend-of-the-court” brief, NWC argued that the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act “must be interpreted broadly to fully compensate plaintiffs and thereby enhance responsible whistleblowing activity directed toward ensuring integrity in the operation of the public-sector workplace.”
Allowing the award of emotional distress damages under the Whistleblower Act to Eller (and other plaintiffs) facing the consequences which Eller has faced will more fully compensate for the actual damages suffered. It will also constitute an important step toward ensuring that responsible whistleblowers come forward with legitimate evidence of wrongdoing by government officials, notwithstanding the very real risk of receiving adverse treatment from those same and other government officials for doing so.
In a victory for whistleblowers, the Idaho State Supreme Court rejected a lower court’s decision to limit the amount of money awarded Brandon Eller for his bravery in blowing the whistle on the Idaho State Police.