Key Decisions

January 2013 – State Whistleblowing Protection Does Not Apply To Municipal Laws

(filed under: Key Decisions | January 16, 2013)

State Whistleblowing Protection Does Not Apply To Municipal Laws

Edgerly v. City of Oakland
(Cal. Ct. of App., 1st Dist.), filed December 12, 2012

Deborah Edgerly was the former city administrator of the City of Oakland. Ron Dellums, who was then the mayor, fired her.

Edgerly sued the City for wrongful termination. She asserted she was fired in retaliation for her refusal to violate the City’s charter, municipal code, and civil service rules and resolutions and that her firing was in violation of the statewide whistleblower statute set forth in Labor Code section 1102.5(c).

The trial court sustained a demurrer to two of Edgerly’s three causes of action. It then granted a motion for summary judgment on the third cause of action.

The Court of Appeal affirmed. It framed the primary question before it as a question of first impression under California law: Should alleged violations of a charter city’s municipal law be deemed violations of state law for purposes of section 1102.5(c)? Based on principles of statutory construction and public policy considerations, the court held that they should not.