SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit allowed a former chief engineer for the Washington State Ferries to pursue a First Amendment lawsuit accusing his bosses of exploiting his allergies and punishing him for speaking out against their corrupt billing practices.
Ken Marable complained that his superiors were “pay padding” by billing for inappropriate overtime and using so-called “special projects” to boost their pay. He said they retaliated by suspending him for allegedly violating several standing orders, criminally recording telephone conversations, and writing “discourteous” and “insubordinate” comments in the ship’s official engine room log.
Though Marable denied the alleged misconduct, he claimed one of his bosses deliberately exposed him to a cleaner called Oil Eater 99, to which Marable is allergic, saying, “I will use (Oil Eater 99), and you will be gone.”
Writing for the majority, Judge Gould reversed summary judgement for defendants and remanded Marable’s free-speech claim, ruling that his objections were not part of his official duties. See ruling.