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February 06, 2017

Police officer’s reassignment to dangerous part of Flint was sufficient to plead a retaliatory action under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, says the MSC

In Smith v. City of Flint, No. 152844, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a police officer’s reassignment to an undesirable location in Flint during undesirable hours was sufficient to establish a question of fact as to whether the police officer suffered an adverse employment action.  In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision, which held that, in concluding whether a retaliatory action under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (“WPA”) was committed, an adverse employment action must be shown to be more than a mere inconvenience.  The Michigan Supreme Court instead agreed with the dissenting opinion, finding that a police officer has properly pleaded an adverse employment action where he is the only patrol officer assigned exclusively to a particularly dangerous section of the department’s jurisdiction.

The Court also took issue with the Court of Appeals’ decision that the officer failed to properly allege participation in a “protected activity” under the WPA, and vacated the ruling as premature because neither party raised the issue in its pleadings, and the trial court did not reach the issue. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
 
Our earlier post on the Court of Appeals’ decision can be found here.

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