Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2019

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Court denies whistleblower protection to former mining company employees

CARSON CITY - The Nevada Supreme Court will not expand the state's whistleblower law to protect employees who lose their jobs for telling their superiors of alleged company violations.

The court rejected the appeal of two employees who say they reported violations related to environmental permits and regulations to the management of Newmont Mining Co., which took no corrective action.

The jobs of environmental coordinators Sandra Ainsworth and Rebecca Sawyer were eliminated in Humboldt County in 2003. And they claim they were not given a chance to apply for other open positions within the company.

The two urged the Supreme Court to expand the whistleblower protections to employees who are terminated for reporting potential permit violations and illegal acts to supervisors and management in their company.

Ainsworth and Sawyer argued there is a nationwide trend to protect workers who report internal whistle blowing to their superiors and are disciplined or fired.

The court said it has recognized the whistleblower protection of an employee is limited to workers who report illegal activity to a governmental agency. It said it was not going to extend the grounds for a whistleblower protection beyond those present limits.

The court also struck down the other claims of Ainsworth and Sawyer and upheld the summary judgment granted Newmont Mining by District Judge Michael Montero.

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