Ken Marable, a chief engineer for the Washington State Ferries (WSF),??? ?reported that WSF management were running corrupt schemes including?? claiming?? inappropriate?? overtime?? and ?pay ?padding? ?that ?wasted? public? resources? and was a threat to public safety. ?He claimed that his complaints led the Washington State Auditor to initiate an investigation. ?Thereafter, WSF charged Marable? with? insubordination? and? misconduct. After a Loudermill hearing presided over by one of his allegedly corrupt supervisors, WSF suspended Marable without pay for a week and barred him from being Chief Engineer for a year.?? Marable sued under 42 U.S.C. ?1983 alleging the WSF and his superiors violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment. ?The district court dismissed his claim on summary judgment holding that his communications were ?on-the-job speech rather than ?speech? as ?a ?citizen,? ?fell ?within ?his? job duties, and were not adequately of ?public concern? so were not protected.?? Reversing, the Court declared: ??At the outset, we think it worth noting that an employee?s charge of high level corruption in a government agency has all the hallmarks that we normally associate with constitutionally protected speech.???? ?And, reporting corruption was ?not in any way a part of [Marable?s] official duties,? the Ninth Circuit ruled, rejecting the WSF?s attempt to rely on a WSF training manual catch-all that the chief engineer ?[k]now and enforce all applicable federal and state rules and regulations.? ?Marable v. Nitchman, No. 06-35940 (Dec. 26, 2007, B. Fletcher, Kleinfeld, Gould).
Public Employee?s Complaints that His Supervisor is Corrupt is Speech Protected by the First Amendment.
Dec 26, 2007