Kansas Gas & Electric v. Brock

In Kansas Gas & Electric v. Brock, 780 F.2d 1505 (10th Cir. 1985), Stephen M. Kohn, Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblower Center, represented public interest amicus curiae in precedent setting case developing the law protecting internal corporate whistleblowers.

In the instant case, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that employees of nuclear facilities are protected against retaliation from their employers. The clause further states that a nuclear facility cannot lawfully terminate a quality controls inspector for filing a safety complaint to the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (“NRC”). Yet the Tenth Circuit Court decided that whistleblower protections are only available to those who disclosed complaints internally, thus disqualifying Brock from receiving legal protection.

Given the number of times that a case of this nature had caused controversy among circuit courts, Brock appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the Writ of Certiorari was denied.

It must be noted that the petition was not unanimously rejected. Justice White was joined by Justice Blackmun and Justice O’Connor in his dissenting opinion. In the published dissent, he states “This direct conflict among the Courts of Appeals should be resolved by this Court. The issue is one of importance to both employees and operators of nuclear installations, and it is an issue that has surfaced either directly or indirectly in at least five appellate decisions in the past four years,” and concludes by noting that he “would grant certiorari to resolve the issue.”

Photo by Dmitrij Paskevic

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