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Florida First DCA affirms dismissal of whistleblower complaint brought by public university student, concluding that only public employees are entitled to the protections of the Florida Whistle-blowers Act

On May 6, 2019, in Bradford v. Florida A&M University Board of Trustees, the Florida First DCA affirmed the dismissal of a whistleblower complaint that had been filed with the Florida Commission of Human Relations by a college student at Florida A&M. The First DCA noted that the purpose of Florida’s Whistle-blower Statute is to “prevent agencies or independent contractors from taking retaliatory action against an employee who reports to an appropriate agency violations of law on the part of a public employer or independent contractor that create a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare.” § 112.3187(2), Fla. Stat. (2018). The statute defines an employee as a “person who performs services for, and under the control and direction of, or contracts with, an agency or independent contractor for wages or other remuneration.” § 112.3187(3)(b), Fla. Stat. (2018). Under this definition, the student’s complaint was deemed to fall outside the purview of the statute.