Boca Raton – David Boyd, a biologist employed by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health, filed for whistleblower protection over his adverse opinion on the construction of a road widening project on U.S. Route 1 in the Florida Keys. The project was believed to disturb the area’s sensitive environmental ecosystem and further endanger wildlife that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, according to the complaint released by Public Employees for Environmental Protection (PEER).
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Barry Silver, in Boca Raton, Florida, alleges a FDEP senior administration official in Tallahassee intervened in the matter and threatened to “have their [Boyd and immediate supervisors] heads on a platter” for disagreeing with the project. In February 2005, as a result of Boyd’s position on the project, the FDEP arbitrarily “closed” its Key Largo office, forcing Boyd to ultimately leave the agency.
Boyd subsequently secured employment with the Department of Health, but shortly after his position began, the agency refused to pay health insurance for Boyd and his family—even though his colleagues received such benefits. Boyd questioned the agencies’ actions and was eventually terminated.
“This case is fraught with political tactics being used against a highly respected state employee who dared to voice his expert scientific opinion that differed from the wishes of the Governor and senior administration officials,” said Jerry Phillips, Director of the Florida Chapter of PEER. “The actions of these two agencies should be alarming to any state employees who simply wish to do their jobs, absent political pressures being applied up to and including the risk of termination.”
The lawsuit was filed late yesterday in the Circuit Court in Monroe County, Florida, and seeks unspecified monetary damages for violating the Florida Whistleblower Act and for wrongful termination over his concern that the agencies involved in the 18-Mile Stretch Project failed to properly address the project’s violation of the National Environmental Protection Act.