Judge Rules D.C. Whistleblower Law Retroactively Applies to Cases

An August decision by a Superior Court Judge involving the case of a whistleblower from the Washington, D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) department may help open the door for a slew of whistleblower cases from current/former District employees to be brought against the city.

Theresa Cusick — former FEMS General Counsel — brought suit in September 2008 under the District’s Whistleblower Protection Act (DCWPA) after she revealed that an FEMS officer had a conflict of interest in working with the Office of the U.S. Attorney and was subsequently removed from her position. GAP created an advocacy video last December detailing Cusick’s case. District attorneys sought to dismiss the case because Cusick failed to file her claim within six months after the circumstances giving rise to her lawsuit. However, recent amendments to the DCWPA had abolished this notice requirement due to the recognition that it greatly impeded whistleblowing. The Superior Court Judge held that the repeal of the notice requirement in the WPA should be applied retroactively.   See video:  http://www.whistleblower.org/multimedia/events-a-activism/132-dc-fire-chief-dennis-rubin-deposition-video-showcases-questionable-statements-behavior

This ruling is a great victory for D.C. employees who have suffered retaliation for blowing the whistle and may be able to bring claims previously thought to be barred due to the six-month notice requirement. GAP has highlighted, through GAP TV’s program Whistle Where You Work, the pattern of retaliation exhibited against fire department personnel by FEMS under Chief Dennis Rubin.  See video:  http://www.whistleblower.org/multimedia/whistle-where-you-work/archive/113-episode-15-accountability-at-the-dc-fire-department