There has been much debate about whether Coach Mike McQueary is a whistleblower. While the NWC takes no position on the outcome of the investigation, there are two facts that are important to note.
First, McQueary’s initial report as a graduate assistant to his supervisor, Joe Paterno, was a protected disclosure under Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania whistleblower law protects employees who “report” wrongdoing “verbally” to their “superior” or to an “agent of the employer.” McQueary also went beyond just reporting it to his supervisor. He reported what he saw to two high-ranking university officials, including a senior Vice President who had supervisory authority over the campus police.
Second, McQueary’s testimony concerning Gerald Sandusky to the grand jury is protected whistleblower speech. The public interest is served when employees provide truthful testimony about their employer’s misconduct.
In my 28 years of experience representing whistleblowers, I have seen employees sit in court and shield their employers, often conveniently forgetting key facts. This appears to have happened in this case. The grand jury found portions of testimony by two key university officials, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, not credible after they sugar coated and downplayed the abuse that was reported to them by McQueary. According to the grand jury report, Schultz was “very unsure” about what McQueary told him, and he testified that McQueary’s allegations were, “not that serious,” and that there was, “no indication that a crime had occurred.” This type of obfuscation and loss of memory is typical of managers covering up wrongdoing.