February 24, 2016

Once again, Foley & Mansfield had a defense win in Michigan Supreme Court. Detroit partner Melinda Balian represented a not for profit company, as well as its managers, which provides services to survivors of domestic violence. The plaintiff was an employee terminated for wrongful and intimidating conduct toward fellow employees and managers.

In an action under the Michigan Whistleblower Act, Plaintiff claimed she was fired in retaliation for her alleged reporting of future, potential misconduct by the operations manager. The defense moved for summary disposition, arguing the alleged actions of Plaintiff did not fall within the protection of the whistleblower statute. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of the our clients. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. On behalf of our clients, we filed for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In reviewing the briefs filed on the application for leave to appeal, the Supreme Court determined our position was correct. The Court found that in order to be within the protection of the whistleblower act, the reported activity had to relate to an existing or past violation or suspected violation of the law, and future violations did not come within the plain language of the statute. The Supreme Court summarily reversed the Court of Appeals.

Melinda Balian