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Ex-FWC officer sues for job back under ‘whistleblower’ law

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A former officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is suing for his job back, saying he was fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.

Travis Hooker filed suit last week in Leon County Circuit Civil Court under the state’s whistleblower law. The decorated combat Marine, who was stationed in Iraq, was a lieutenant in the FWC’s law enforcement division.

He alleged that his October 2015 firing came after alerting superiors that another officer was attending his son’s Little League games while on duty.

The suit says the proof is in computer-aided dispatch records that show the individual logged in as working, but at the baseball fields.

Instead, Hooker himself got in trouble because he declined to name other FWC employees who had tipped him off.

Instead of investigating the other employee, FWC officials tried to “damage (Hooker’s) reputation,” according to an earlier court filing.

Hooker was paid $52,601 a year, according to a state salary database. He is represented by several lawyers, including Tallahassee attorney Steve Andrews.

An FWC spokesman declined a request for comment, saying the agency does not weigh in on pending litigation.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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