Posted: September 5, 2012

A former Iowa State University employee who informed his bosses about suspected theft by a school director and then was harassed by his superiors, was awarded $1.25 million in what news reports called the first case tried under Iowa’s whistleblower statute. Dennis Smith, who worked in the ISU College of Engineering marketing department, was called a “potential terrorist or mass murderer” after he made allegations to the college president against a school marketing director. But after that director pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in 2009 for stealing more than $10,000, Smith filed suit under the state’s whistleblower law for public employees, claiming that ISU employees tried over several years to destroy Smith’s reputation. A jury agreed and awarded Smith $500,000 for emotional distress. The judge in the case awarded an additional $784,000, plus attorney fees, for loss of income and damage to Smith’s reputation. Learn more about whistleblower laws at