Doug Hartnett, '97, Wins DC DC Whistleblower Protection Act Appeal
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
Washington, DC - Continuing the long association of the David Clarke School of Law with the DC Whistleblower Protection Act, one of the nation’s most comprehensive whistleblower protection statutes, alumnus Doug Hartnett, ’97, recently won a precedent setting decision in the DC Court of Appeals in McCall v. DC Housing Authority, No. 14-cv-337 (Nov. 19, 2015).
For the first time “hostile work environment” claims were recognized under the DC Whistleblower Protection Act. Read the decision HERE.
The case involved a claim that ongoing harassment in retaliation for protected whistleblowing constitutes a prohibited personnel action under the statute. In addition, as in similar remedial statutes such as those prohibiting discrimination, if a single act of harassment falls within the statute of limitations period, the entire claim is preserved. The lower court ruling also interpreted the statute of limitations in the most restrictive manner possible, which if it had not been reversed, would have severely limited access to a hearing by DC whistleblowers. The Court of Appeals found merit in each argument made on behalf the employee, and reinstated his Whistleblower Protection Act claim in its entirety. Mr. Hartnett is looking forward to conducting discovery and to preparing for a trial in Superior Court sometime in 2016.
Countless DC Law alumni have been instrumental over the past 25 years, in writing, passing, amending and litigating under the DC Whistleblower Protection Act from the prospective of student advocates in the Government Accountability Clinic, as legislative staff for the Councilmembers leading the efforts to pass the legislation and amend it as needed, and as practitioners representing individual clients exercising their right to protection from retaliation for acting as conscientious civil servants. Because of this, the School has had a uniquely central role in creating and building a leading open government law.