SW Legal studies in Business

Whistleblower Must Be Employed at Time of Whistleblowing to Qualify for Protection

A person who was a whistleblower before being hired by the employer on whom she had blown the whistle, and was then fired when the employer realized she had been a whistleblower against them in the past, is not due protection under the terms of the Maine Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, the Maine high court held.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words

Termination; Whistleblower; Application

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Kimberly Costain was a patient at Sunbury Primary Care for a couple years and engaged in a personal relationship with her doctor, who was employed by Sunbury. When a complaint was filed with the state about the doctor, Costain was asked to participate in an investigation of the doctor, and she agreed. At the time of the investigation, she was not employed by Sunbury, but she was later hired by Sunbury. When Sunbury then learned that she had participated in the state investigation of the staff doctor, Sunbury fired Costain. She sued Sunbury for violating the Maine Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. The district court dismissed her suit. She appealed.


Affirmed. Costain’s participation in the investigation of the doctor at a time when she was not employed by Sunbury was not a protected action under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. The Act provides a right of action to persons who are employees who have been fired for being a whistleblower, and there is a causal relationship between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. The Act specifically provides protection to 1) employees 2) who report to an employer 3) about a violation 4) committed or practiced by that employer. Costain did not report anything to her employer and was not an employee at the time of the matter in question, so she does not qualify for coverage by the statute.

Citation Costain v. Sunbury Primary Care, 954 A.2d 1051 (Sup. Jud. Ct., Maine, 2008)

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