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159857 - Linda Rivera v SVRC Industries, Inc

Linda Rivera,

 

Kevin Kelly

 

Plaintiff-Appellant,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Saginaw – McGraw, P.)

 

SVRC Industries, Inc.,

 

Kailen Christine Piper

 

Defendant-Appellee.

 

Summary

The plaintiff was discharged by her employer after she communicated with a supervisor and the company’s attorney about threats made by another employee.  She claimed retaliation in violation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (WPA), MCL 15.361 et seq., based on her communications with a supervisor about her desire to report the threats to the police; retaliation in violation of the WPA because she informed the defendant’s attorney about the threats and attorneys are considered public bodies; and retaliation in violation of public policy because she wanted to report unlawful threats to the police and refused to conceal what amounted to a violation of the Michigan Anti-Terrorism Act.  The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary disposition, but the Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of an order granting summary disposition to defendant on all counts.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address:  (1) whether the record supports the plaintiff’s contention that her communication with the defendant’s chief operating officer demonstrated that she was “about to report” a violation or a suspected violation of a law, see MCL 15.362; (2) whether the plaintiff’s communications with the defendant’s counsel constituted a “report” pursuant to MCL 15.362 where (a) the defendant’s counsel initiated contact with the plaintiff (rather than the plaintiff contacting him), and (b) the defendant’s counsel was aware of the plaintiff’s allegations prior to their conversation; (3) whether the WPA is the plaintiff’s exclusive remedy in this case; and (4) whether the record supports the plaintiff’s contention that her protected activity caused her firing, that is, whether the plaintiff has sufficient evidence beyond the temporal proximity of the events to show causation, see Wurtz v Beecher Metro Dist, 495 Mich 242 (2014).​