Last month, the University of Michigan agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit with a former employee who alleged that she was wrongfully terminated. The settlement agreement was signed on December 3.
Last month, the University of Michigan agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit with a former employee who alleged that she was wrongfully terminated. The settlement agreement was signed on December 3 and the details were later released after Mlive filed a “Freedom of Information Act records request.”
According to the lawsuit, the former employee, Amy J. Wang, worked as an “executive in technology services and later the finance department” earning almost $200,000 per year. In her suit, she alleged that university fired her after she blew the whistle on “improprieties related to the employment of a non-U.S. Resident.” The suit stated that Wang’s boss, Associate Vice President of Finance Nancy Hobbs, told her “to lie to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services officials about the duties of the employee in question.” According to the suit, the employee was employed through the university through a “North American Free Trade Agreement-created program that allows residents of Mexico or Canada to receive temporary work Visas to work in the U.S.” However, when Wang blew the whistle, she noted that the employee was working in a “permanent, managerial role, which isn’t allowed under the program guidelines.”
The suit alleges that Hobbs and the unidentified employee asked Wang to “fraudulently misrepresent the employee’s title and job duties in a letter to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services that was required in order to renew the employee’s Visa.” Wang didn’t comply and instead “worked with human resources personnel to revise the employee’s work duties, which included the removal of management duties and a pay reduction of $9,500.”
As a result, conflict arose between Wang and her boss. Then, on June 19, Hobbs asked Wang to “resign under threat of firing if she refused,” completely blindsiding her. Wang refused to resign and the “matter went to a disciplinary review conference, which resulted in Wang being officially fired on July 13…for failing to meet expectations.” In her suit, however, Wang argued that her termination was “retaliation for her refusal to write a fraudulent letter on behalf of the employee who required a work Visa renewal.”
Despite signing the settlement agreement, the university has not admitted any liability. In total, it will pay Wang “$219,000 for lost wages and other damages, as well as $81,000 in costs and legal fees to Gasiorek, Morgan, Greco, McCauley & Kotzian Attorneys at Law, the firm that represented Wang.” It also updated Wang’s file so that it no longer mentions her termination, but instead lists “her departure as a voluntary resignation.”
On the flip-side, Wang agreed that she would never work for the university against and “cleared the university of any new claims related to her termination.”