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Whistleblower Act Protects Employee Reporting on Own Agency
Description Alaska supreme court upheld a jury verdict for a former state employee who sued for violation of Whistleblower Act. The court held that the reports that employees make to their employing agency are protected by the Act.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Whistleblower, Punitive Damages
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Salvucci was an internal auditor for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. When he was fired by the head of the agency, he sued AHFC on various counts, including violation of the Whistleblower Act. The jury awarded Salvucci almost $700,000, including punitive damages of $500,000. AHFC appealed.
Supreme Court Decision Contrary to the position taken by the AHFC, the Whistleblower Act does cover "the reporting of a matter of public concern to one's own employer to give rise to protection under the Act." To hold otherwise would mean that the Act would not protect employees who reported the issue to his employers. Therefore, only issues reported by employees to the Attorney General or another outside agency would be protected under the Act. However, the punitive damages are overturned because "a punitive damage award against the State may not be awarded unless there is express and specific statutory authorization."
Citation Alaska Housing Finance Corp. v. Salvucci, ---P.2d--- (1997 WL 777337, Sup. Ct., Ak.)

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