Appeals Court Reinstates School District Whistleblower Case
A New Jersey State Appeals court reinstates Robert Dukin’s whistleblower lawsuit against Mount Olive School District. After the Superior Court dismissed the case for insufficient evidence that Dukin’s 2010 dismissal was due to his whisle-blowing, the Appeals court was able to determine that sufficient evidence exists to proceed to trial.
Dukin, a former auto mechanic for the school district, first began to see retaliation when he told a state Motor Vehicle Commission Inspector of severe leaks in the air tank on the bus brake fittings after his warnings were ignored by the lead mechanic, Brian Lewis. Dukin was also sent home for the day when he refused to lift the bus with a bumper jack for repairs, although it was dangerous to do so on the garage’s uneven asphalt. However, upon filing a formal complaint with Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Department (PSEOH) regarding the unsafe condition of the garage, procedures changed. Dukin then filed 13 regulatory complaint violations with PSEOH, including seven “serious” violations with serious financial implications, after being ignored by supervisors. Dukin is dedicated to bringing to light all the unsafe garage conditions and unrepaired bus dangers discovered and warnings ignored during his three year employment.
Although the school district does not deny the violations and the unsafe conditions, they argued in Superior Court that Dukin was dismissed due to “poor performance and insubordination.” The school district further argued budget cuts also played a role in his dismissal. However, the district hired a relative of Lewis’s to help in the garage shortly after Dukin’s dismissal. Because the Appeals court has reinstated the lawsuit, trial will begin in the Superior Court where both sides will be able to tell their story and bring to light the facts that rendered this dismissal. (VNN – Addison Naugle) (Image: Flickr | HPUPhotogStudent)