Whistleblower protection

"Respondent Grant Norris is an aircraft mechanic licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). . . .  On February 2, 1987, respondent was hired by petitioner Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HAL)."

"On July 15, 1987, during a routine preflight inspection of a DC-9 plane, he noticed that one of the tires was worn.  When he removed the wheel, respondent discovered that the axle sleeve, which should have been mirror smooth, was scarred and grooved.  This damaged sleeve could cause the landing gear to fail.  Respondent recommended that the sleeve be replaced, but his supervisor ordered that it be sanded and returned to the plane.  This was done, and the plane flew as scheduled.  At the end of the shift, respondent refused to sign the maintenance record to certify that the repair had been performed satisfactorily and that the airplane was fit to fly.  The supervisor immediately suspended him pending a termination hearing. . . .  The hearing officer terminated respondent for insubordination."

"On December 18, 1987, respondent filed suit against HAL in Hawaii Circuit Court.  His complaint included two wrongful-discharge torts . . . and discharge in violation of Hawaii's Whistleblower Protection Act."

"The Hawaii Whistleblower Protection Act forbids an employer to 'discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee . . . because . . . [t]he employee . . . reports or is about to report to a public body ... a violation or a suspected violation of a law or rule adopted pursuant to law of this State, a political subdivision of this State, or the United States, unless the employee knows that the report is false.'  The Act authorizes an employee to file a civil action seeking injunctive relief and actual damages."