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Thread: Is My Whistleblower Statute of Limitations Still Intact? Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

  1. #1
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    Question Is My Whistleblower Statute of Limitations Still Intact? Pennsylvania

    Long story short:

    Was fired from a PA city government job in December 2014. Employment was covered by contract; termination was wrongful. Federal civil rights violated (section 1983). 2 years statue of limitations for both claims. Federal suit would be filed, to include secondary aspect of wrongful termination. However, question about a third secondary "whistleblower" retaliation claim aspect:

    Normally, the s.o.l. for a whitleblower claim would have ended 6 months after the December 2014 termination in June 2015. Termination was effective in late December. However, there was a city government civil service hearing after I was out from the job for months for which the relevant civil service commission did not render a decision until August 2015.

    One person who has a law degree but never really practiced as far as I know has suggested that one can argue the s.o.l. for the whistleblower claim really runs from August 2015 to January 2016 and therefore did not really expire in June 2015. I realize that "one can argue" anything, but is that a strong and winnable argument or not? The union covered attorney who had represented me in the civil service hearing to begin with had stated merely that a Pennsylvania whistleblower case must be brought within 180 days of the retaliatory termination, which would seem to rule out the idea that the August 2015 decision extended it. But I'm not sure if that is right or the "argument" about August 2015 more likely to prevail.
    Last edited by ~John; 11-23-2015 at 09:44 AM.

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    It depends a great deal on what law you claim is being violated. There is no tolling because of administrative processes but it is unclear whether you are claiming a contract violation or something else. Also, it isn't clear who this hearing was with and whether they found in your favor or not. You may not be able to sue if the violation has already been adjudicated. You would be well served to run all this by an actual practicing and licensed attorney.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    Thanks for your reply. I'm beginning to think the first opinion I ever heard which you have echoed is right - no tolling for the whistleblower claim. The first attorney who handled the civil service appeal had said as much. My case has never been adjudicated, however. The civil service hearing was unfavorable. They only rubber stamped what the city did and I only found out too late that choosing the appeal with the civil service commission was a mistake because it tends to be nothing but a biased arm of city management, whereas I could have had an alternate route to genuinely independent arbitration (which no one told me about in time) which it seems was all but certain to have had the opposite outcome.

    I have/had three claims to file with one federal case: 1. violation of Title 42/Section 1983 federal civil rights; 2. wrongful termination ( = contract violation ); 3. whistleblower retaliation, for which it would seem the s.o.l. really is simply expired and I no longer can include that claim.

    Normally if I did not have the section 1983 claim then #2 and #3 would be state court cases, but when you file in federal court you can include #2 and #3 within the federal case. In this case, it would seem I would be filing a federal 1983 case with a secondary aspect of wrongful termination/contract violation.

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    You will need to discuss all your options with a/your attorney.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Betty3 View Post
    You will need to discuss all your options with a/your attorney.
    Well yes of course, but I would really like people to weigh in with opinions here, especially if they really know something or are attorneys themselves. ElleMD seems very confident in what she said about it. I've been doing forums for a long time, so I know it's not to be construed as legal advice or authoritative, but it sure can be extremely valuable and correct. I'd like this kind of input and feedback before I settle on or spend time with a prosepective attorney really. It seems to be an interesting question, too. I know you "can argue" anything, but can you really argue about when the statute of limitations runs for whistleblower, or is that really a dead argument? Does it make a difference to that question if you file in state vs. federal?
    Last edited by ~John; 11-23-2015 at 11:09 PM.

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    If only state claims remain, your only recourse is state, not federal. You can not file in federal for the purposes of resurrecting an otherwise expired SOL. If you already adjudicated it at a hearing, you are almost assuredly barred from suing in court. You can not just go from venue to venue with the same issues. You probably could have appealed the initial decision from the hearing, but the mechanism for doing so varies greatly from one municipality to another, and even one contract to another. Only a lawyer who has reviewed everything can tell you your options. Bear in mind that such appeal rights typically have very short windows, like 30 days. If this decision came out in August, it would be highly unusual for the appeal period to still be open. In some cases the violation, if there is one, can still be made, but you would not be able to recover damages or have the right to sue.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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