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Federal funds at issue in employment discrimination case

Wrongful termination lawsuits occur for a wide variety of reasons. They are hard cases for a plaintiff to pursue, because many employees work for their employers on an "at-will" basis - which means they can be fired for almost any reasons, or no reason. However, there are circumstances when no matter what the employment situation between the two parties is an employer can be found to have unjustifiably fired an employee. When a government employee alleges misuse of public funds and is terminated from employment as a result, it could be just that sort of employment discrimination.

That was the case for a former budget analyst for a school district. The woman was reportedly terminated for "insubordination" back in December, but only after she began raising concerns that Title I federal education funds were being misused in the district. Apparently the woman alleged that the school was not using the money for employees for whom the funds were provided - those who specialize in working with disadvantaged students - and instead was using the money to fund substitute teachers for all students.

Although the lawsuit as filed is only seeking $10,000, it appears that the implications of this case had a far greater impact. The reports indicate that the allegations of misuse of funds resulted in $5 million in Department of Education money being withheld from the district.

For the school district in question this case is likely only to get larger and attract more attention as time goes on. The parties might ultimately settle the claim, but if not the litigation could draw in more parties than just the fired employee and representatives of the school district, in order to determine the real issue behind the case - were federal funds misused?

Source: KBOI2.com, "Nampa Schools hit with wrongful termination lawsuit," Scott Logan, June 4, 2013

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