Texas’s Whistleblower Act prohibits a state or local governmental entity (including a school district) from taking adverse personnel action against an employee “who in good faith reports a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee to an appropriate law enforcement authority.” Therefore, school district employees are protected from retaliation if, in good faith, they report a violation of a civil or criminal statute, a local ordinance or a rule adopted under a statute or ordinance.
The employee must act in “good faith” which means that he believed the conduct which he reported was a violation of law and that the belief was reasonable.
An “appropriate law enforcement authority” is a governmental entity which the employee believes is authorized to either (i)regulate under or enforce the law alleged to be violated or (ii) investigate or prosecute a violation of criminal law.
The employee’s report of a violation of the law to a supervisor – even if the violation occurs at work – may not always constitute a report to an appropriate law enforcement authority.
An employee must initiate action under the grievance or appeal procedures available within the district to challenge the adverse employment action and must invoke the applicable procedure within 90 days. The employee must be sure to follow the local school district’s grievance procedure, which may impose a deadline of less than 90 days.