November 17, 2010
Judge Ronald Goodman gave detailed instructions to the jury in how to decide the case of Jim Long v WSI.
The overarching question: Was James Long fired for engaging in whistleblower activity?
Judge Goodman said the burden of proof was on Long to show that 1) he had engaged in protected activity, 2) that WSI took adverse action against him, and 3) that there was a casual connection between Long's activity and WSI's adverse action. Long must prove all three to prevail.
Protected activity was defined as reporting suspected violations of the rules, regulations, or the law to authorities.
He told the jury they could consider credibility of witnesses, and said that depositions carried the same weight as witness testimony in court.
Goodman instructed the jury that Long had not asserted the First Amendment in this case; he said that government employees do retain the First Amendment right, but that a government employer does have broad authority to restrict speech. he said the First Amendment does not allow someone to Constitutionalize an employer grievance.
The judge also said the jury may consider whether WSI acted in good faith on advice of counsel.