|Former Hiatt Worker Elvia Bahena|
What Councilor Lutz didn't say, and perhaps he didn't know, is that she would have no chance of winning such a lawsuit. Indiana is an at-will state. In order for her employment to be protected there would have to be a specific law shielding her from retaliation for testifying to the Council. With very few exceptions, there is no law protecting the right of private employees to speak publicly against their employers, even when it is about a matter of a public concern. Her employer, United Service, can fire her for speaking to the Council. And since Hiatt is not technically her employer, she may not be able to maintain an action against the hotel at all.
Whether Bahena qualifies for unemployment is an entirely separate matter.
Given Indiana's home rule, it is possible the Council could pass an ordinance prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who decide to testify before the council. That might actually work to give the employee some protection and might form the basis of a wrongful termination case should that employee later be fired for testifying to the council. But as far as Bahena goes, she is almost certainly out of luck if she follows Lutz's suggestion and files a lawsuit.
Whistleblower laws should only cover employees of government. Freedom to fire is a necessary corollary of freedom to quit.
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