The Truth About WSI “Whistleblower” Jim Long

Jim Long is the former head of support services for North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance and is also one of the “whistleblowers” you’ve been hearing about endlessly in the state media. He was terminated by Workforce Safety after filing for legal whistleblower status with the state attorney general and being denied that status. To hear Long, who is also now a legislative candidate, and his fellow Democrats tell it he is some sort of truth-telling martyr who was fired by the WSI management for trying to expose fraud and corruption.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have obtained a series of documents from WSI by way of an open records request, and these documents detail the following facts about Long and why he was terminated from WSI (with page numbers from the linked PDF document above):
Following former WSI CEO Sandy Blunt’s leave from WSI (while he was under indictment) Long applied to be interim director of WSI. John Halvorson was chosen over long, and following that Long was hostile and uncooperative with Halvorson who was now his direct supervisor. (Page 41)
On May 4th of 2007 Halvorson was approached by a then-anonymous WSI employee who expressed discomfort with working with Long and fellow-whistleblower-to-be Billi Peltz, who was Long’s subordinate (Pages 14, 21). The allegations made were “sophomoric” and “touching” behavior from Long and Peltz (both of whom are married to other people) including Long touching Peltz in a sexual manner at work and the two of them laughing and throwing things at one another during meetings. Also, Long and Peltz would spend excessive amounts of time with each other away from the office on work days including their getting pedicures together (Pages 24, 25) and there was concern over the fact that Peltz – again, Long’s subordinate – had received an 18% pay increase after their relationship began. These allegations had been made previously going as far back as August and October of 2006.
On May 7th of 2007 interim CEO John Halvorson met with Long and Peltz separately to discuss the allegations of inappropriate behavior.
On August 29th of 2007 Long singled out two African American employees (Sonja Nallie and Timothy Hutchings) during an internal audit and recorded their statements for the audit. No other WSI employees involved with the audit were recorded, which prompted complaints of racial discrimination from these employees. As it would turn out, Nallie just happens to be the employee who reported to Halvorson the inappropriate behavior between Long and Peltz (Pages 22, 23).
On August 31st of 2007 John Halvorson and Jim Long met regarding the singling out of two African American employees for recording. Halvorson stated to Long that he does not want any employee singled out for recording during internal audits unless given express instruction to do so. Long was combative, brought up the idea that he had whistleblower protection, and then made a veiled threat to Halvorson by asking who he would take direction from if an audit included Halvorson himself. (Page 26)
A separation and release agreement aimed at ending Long’s employment at WSI was drawn up and dated October 19th, 2007 but not signed. Presumably it was presented to Long and rejected (Page 34).
On October 20th, 2007 Long filed for “whistleblower” protection with the state attorney general’s office (Page 40). He was eventually denied this protection and ultimately terminated by WSI.
In summary: Long disliked Halvorson because Halvorson got a job Long wanted. During Halvorson’s tenure as CEO inappropriate and unprofessional behavior between Long and his subordinate Billi Peltz was reported to Halvorson. Halvorson confronted Long about it and Long got angry. Long possibly attempted to retaliate against his fellow employee who reported said inappropriate behavior to Halvorson by singling her and another African American employee out during an audit. This prompted an understandable, though totally avoidable had Long acted professionally, allegation of racial discrimination from the two black employees. When Long was confronted on this by Halvorson he again got angry, made threats, and became uncooperative. Given this, WSI attempted to terminate his employment. He tried to wriggle out of it by filing for whistleblower protection but was ultimate denied and fired anyway.
Conclusion? Jim Long was appropriately terminated from WSI, and those saying otherwise are either naive to the reality of Long’s tenure at WSI or are aware and are lying to the public. And while North Dakota Democrats are still trying to manufacture controversy around WSI so they can use it as their #1 campaign issue this election season, they’d be fools to line up behind this guy as some sort of martyr.

I'm a Grand Forks native and alumni of North Dakota. I want to be Rob Port when I grow up.