By Attorney Patrick Chukelu; member of the editorial advisory board of USAfrica since 1994.
Employee Fired—Refused Boss’ Order To Break Law
Did U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resign yesterday or was she fired by President Trump? The media is rife with speculations that she did not want to reinstate the immigrant family separation barred by a Federal Judge against President Trump’s desire to continue the practice.
A new Court order this week precludes the President’s request that asylum seekers be excluded from the U.S., which contravenes current immigration law (as passed by Congress that U.S. Judges adjudicate the legitimacy and exclusion of asylum applicants on U.S. soil).
What is the remedy for an employee whose boss orders to contravene an existing law? Does such employee comply with the Boss’ order or decline and risk employment termination?
A good start for an answer is to consult an attorney who will explore statutory provisions for wrongful termination for refusing an unlawful order. Such may fall under a “whistleblower” Act, which may include reporting an illegal act. Texas has comparable statute applicable to State employees. Non-governmental Texas employees rely on a court-made decision that found it unacceptable for a private employee to choose between obeying an employer’s order that’ll expose the employee to jail in order to keep the job.
Employment lawyers in Texas generally refer to this employment exception as “Sabine Pilot”, named after the seminal case. When in doubt, check with your attorney before obeying the Bossman.