NC Court of Appeals Rules for State Employee in Whistleblower Case

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently issued an interesting decision in Wang v. UNC-CH School of Medicine. The majority agreed with the trial court in finding that employees who are excluded from the State Personnel Act are still entitled to protections under the North Carolina Whistleblower Act. The plaintiff was an EPA Non-Faculty employee whose research grant funding from the NIH was rejected by her superior, thus eliminating funding for her position. She filed a lawsuit under the Whistleblower Act and claimed that her termination was retaliation for a letter the employee sent to administrators that discussed errors in the grant proposals sent to the NIH for her superior’s research. The Court of Appeals concluded that the plaintiff was covered by the Whistleblower Act because it covers “all State employees, public school employees, and community college employees.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 126-5(c1). The Court, however, upheld the rejection of the plaintiff’s discrimination and constitutional claims. Accordingly, the Court sent the case back to the University’s Board of Governors in order to permit the BOG to make adequate findings of fact addressing the Whistleblower Act claim.