City of Houston v. Levingston

In City of Houston v. Levingston, 221 S.W.3d 204 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 2006, no pet.), the Court held that the City of Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care ("BARC") could be considered an appropriate law enforcement authority for the plaintiff employee's reports of animal abuse and violations of the City Code, the Texas Penal Code, and the Texas Health and Safety Code. Id. at 225. In support of this holding, the Court cited evidence showing that BARC had the authority to regulate under or to enforce sections of the Health and Safety Code and the authority to investigate violations of criminal law under the city code and penal code. The case in Levingston was tried to a jury, and both parties presented significant evidence at trial regarding whether BARC, and the manager to whom the whistleblowing reports were made, could be considered appropriate law enforcement authorities. Levingston, 221 S.W.3d at 218-219. Although the Court determined that BARC could be considered an appropriate law enforcement authority, the Court also determined that the manager to whom the reports had been made at BARC had the power to investigate the reported violations of Texas Penal Code and was "in the best position to receive such reports on behalf" of BARC. Id. .