California Senate passes bill to extend whistleblower coverage to university employees

Yesterday, the California State Senate passed SB 219, a bill to extend state whistleblower protections to employees of the University of California (UC).  The bill became necessary after the California Supreme Court decided last year that UC employees were not covered by the state’s whistleblower protection law as long as the UC administration conducted their own investigation in a timely manner. That case was Miklosy v. Regents of University of California, S139133, 44 Cal. 4th 876; 188 P.3d 629; 80 Cal. Rptr. 3d 690 (July 31, 2008). State Senator Leland Yee sponsored SB 219.  He told the California Chronicle that "This is the classic case of the fox guarding the hen house, and yet another example of UC administrators opposing a commonsense reform. UC executives should not be judge and jury on whether or not they are liable for monetary claims. This was not the intent of California´s whistleblower law." Yee is now urging California’s Governor to sign the bill, notwithstanding opposition from the UC administration. The California Chronicle reports that Leo Miklosy and Luciana Messina were scientists at UC´s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They told their supervisors about equipment problems and poorly trained operators of a project to determine the safety and reliability of the nation´s nuclear weapons stockpile. UC fired Miklosy in February 2003. Messina resigned after overhearing a supervisor say she would also be fired.

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