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Florida Court Rules – Public Whistleblowers Can Recover Compensatory Damages!

On July 24, 2019, in the case of Iglesias v. City of Hialeah, the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida changed the landscape for recoverable damages in retaliation claims by public whistleblowers—state, county and/or local government employees who expose and object to illegal practices and gross mismanagement.

In its text, the Florida Whistle-blower Act does not explicitly specify whether compensatory damages, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering are recoverable when pursuing a claim for retaliation under the Act. Prior to the Iglesias decision, there was no controlling authority (from the appellate courts or the Florida Supreme Court) on the recovery of emotional damages under the Act, even though there were a few lower courts that were split on the issue.  That has all changed!!

Sass law firm blog white board with black letters spelling whistleblower with a hand drawing a red underlineLiberally reading the statute in favor of whistleblowers, the Court found that the Act outlines remedies that, at a minimum, must be included for a public whistleblower. Significantly, the Court plainly said that those remedies are not the only remedies recoverable and held that compensatory damages ARE available to whistleblowers.

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