Johnson vs. Spencer
Project Details
Project Description

In Elizabeth Johnson v. Spencer and the Northland Learning Center, 2008 WL 5335443 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2008), Deborah Eckland and Alan King represented Elizabeth Johnson in an employment whistleblower claim. For ten years, Ms. Johnson worked as a special education paraprofessional for the Northland Special Education Cooperative in Virginia, Minnesota.

Beginning in 2005, Ms. Johnson became extremely alarmed over several serious problems that had surfaced at the Cooperative. These concerns included issues with third-party billing, student violence, overcrowding, and proper teacher licensing. Ms. Johnson brought these concerns to her supervisors on numerous occasions but in each instance, was rebuffed. Thereafter, she authored a letter expressing these concerns to the local media. As a result, she was harassed by her supervisors, her computer was searched, her office was ransacked, and she received two threatening letters from her direct supervisor. Due to this hostile work environment, Ms. Johnson was forced to leave her employment.

Deborah and Alan convinced the Court of Appeals to overturn the district court’s dismissal of Ms. Johnson’s whistleblower claim, which allowed Ms. Johnson her day in court. The case was tried to a jury in October 2009 in Virginia, Minnesota, resulting in a verdict favorable to Ms. Johnson. She received damages for pain and suffering, wage loss, attorney fees and costs.

If you would like to read more about this case, you can read the Court of Appeals decision.