A federal appeals court reversed a lower court on Thursday and reinstated retaliation and wrongful termination charges filed by a whistleblower who was fired after complaining about possible environmental violations by the US Army Reserve Command.
Aaron Killgore, who was employed by San Antonio-based SpecPro Professional Services LLC, consulted on a project for the Army Reserve that involved evaluating the environmental impact of using a site in Conroe, Texas, as a helipad, according to the ruling. of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco i Aaron Kilgore v. SpecPro Professional Services LLC.
The Army Reserve provides environmental and training support services for the Mountain View, Calif.-based 63rd Regional Support Command.
Killgore became concerned that the Conroe site had been used for previous helicopter activity without a lease authorizing the Army Reserve to use the site, and that reports on the property̵7;s environmental status and on endangered species had not been requested.
After he disagreed with an instruction not to keep a written record of past usage problems concerning location, an army reserve officer complained about him, and he was terminated.
Killgore sued SpecPro, alleging retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of the California Whistleblower Protection Act. The U.S. District Court in San Jose dismissed the case and was overturned by a three-judge court panel.
The lower court erred in determining that Killgore’s disclosures were not protected under the state’s whistleblower statute “and therefore disregarded evidence of his claims,” the panel said
“Properly considered, the evidence raises genuine disputes of material fact as to the nature of Killgore’s disclosures, whether he had reasonable grounds to believe that federal law was being violated, and whether his whistleblowing activity was a contributing factor to his termination of employment,” the ruling said. by reversing the lower court and remanding the case for further proceedings.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.