The plaintiff was a deputy Seattle fire chief.?? He filed a whistleblower administrative complaint about the City?s failure to bill for $200,000 in fire services.? ?He was later demoted.? ?He filed an administrative?? whistleblower?? retaliation? ?claim under the state local government ?RCW 42.41 and Seattle whistleblower laws. ?The plaintiff then filed a complaint in Superior Court under the same provisions.?? ?The Superior Court stayed the administrative complaint.
The City moved to dismiss claiming the plaintiff had no right to bring a whistleblower claim directly in Superior Court and had no wrongful discharge claim because he had not been discharged.?? The Superior Court agreed and Division One affirmed. The appellate court held that both the state and local whistleblower laws at issue provide for appellate review by a Superior Court of final administrative decisions on whistleblower complaints but they do not provide for a direct action in Superior Court.? ?The court noted that the state government employee whistleblower statute and the WLAD retaliation provisions had clear language permitting a direct action in Superior Court.
The court also held that emotional distress damages are not available under RCW 42.41.
Woodbury v. Seattle, — Wn. App. —, 292 P.3d 134 (Div. 1 1/14/13) (Appelwick, Cox, Ellington).