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When Is An Employee a Whistleblower?

Plaintiff, James G. Moriarty (“Moriarty”) appealed from the dismissal of his complaint alleging wrongful termination in violation of a public policy, breach of an implied contract of employment and tortious interference.

The Defendant, Boys and Girls Club of Marshfield (“Club”) runs an after school program for children. As such, it is required to be licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (“Department”) pursuant to M.G.L. c. 15D sec. 1 et seq., unless it qualifies for an exemption. Previously, the Club “self identified” as exempt. In January 2013 Moriarty submitted the Club’s application for an exemption to the Department, which was subsequently denied. The Club then re-worked the application for an exemption and submitted it to the Department in June 2013. Moriarty’s objected to the re-submission to the Club and stated that he believed that the re-application has material misrepresentations. The Club responded to Moriarty’s objections via email, questioning whether Moriarty shared the goals of the Club and suggesting a meeting with the chair of the governance committee. Shortly thereafter, Moriarty was terminated.

The Court considered whether Moriarty was terminated for making an internal complaint about a company policy versus whether Moriarty was terminated for making an internal complaint about a violation of law. Here, the Court found that a fact-finder could conclude that Moriarty’s complaints were grounded in the Club’s attempt to evade the licensing requirement set forth in M.G.L. c. 15D sec. 1 et seq. and therefore Moriarty had stated a cause of action for which relief could be granted.

Moriarty v. Boys and Girls Club of Marshfield, et al. 87 Mass. App. Ct. 1117 (May 1, 2015)

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