The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

January 4, 2014

Former auditor sues WVU over firing

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University is being sued by a former auditor who claims he was fired for complaining about wrongdoing at the school.

R. Michael Kennedy-Chuey’s federal lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for wrongful discharge, violation of the state’s whistleblower law and other claims. The lawsuit also seeks back pay, The Dominion Post reported.

WVU spokesman John Bolt told the newspaper that the university doesn’t discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit says Kennedy-Chuey complained to WVU officials in 2011 that the university hadn’t complied with the federal American Recovery & Reinvestment Act’s “Buy American” provisions when it used stimulus funding for work on the Personal Rapid Transit system. He had been selected in 2009 to perform testing and monitoring to ensure compliance with the law.

The law requires that stimulus funds cannot be used for projects unless items are purchased in the U.S. Exceptions are non-availability, unreasonable cost and inconsistent with the public interest.

Kennedy-Chuey’s lawsuit says he contacted various outside offices about the issue and filed formal complaints with federal investigators at the Department of Transportation and National Institutes of Health.

According to the lawsuit, Kennedy-Chuey also had complained about a hostile work environment allegedly created by Dan Durbin, senior associate vice president for finance. Durbin also is a defendant in the lawsuit.

Kennedy-Chuey was working 60 to 65 hours a week, as instructed by Durbin, when he suffered an injury at work in 2010, the lawsuit says.

Kennedy-Chuey was fired in 2013. He had been hired by the university in 2006 as an internal auditor, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Kennedy-Chuey’s firing was mostly based on his decision to raise issues of wrongdoing.

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