Whistleblower Lawsuit filed by Rapides Parish Coliseum Employee can Proceed, Court Rules

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A whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee of Rapides Parish Coliseum in Louisiana can proceed, a state appeals court ruled. According to The Town Talk, the suit was filed in the 9th Judicial District Court against the Coliseum Authority in July 2013. The whistleblower alleged that she was fired for speaking up about financial wrongdoings.

The Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a 9th District ruling, allowing the suit to proceed. Previously, Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. granted the Coliseum Authority summary judgment on technical grounds. However, Meyoyer’s reason for granting the summary judgment was based on a reason not presented by the Coliseum Authority in its motion for the judgment, the 3rd Circuit ruled. “We find the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on an issue not asserted by the Authority in its motion after considering evidence that was not admitted ‘for purposes of the motion for summary judgment …,’” the 3rd circuit said in its ruling.

The whistleblower was hired as an office manager in February 2013. Three months later, she was fired. According to the summary of the case, the plaintiff “was asked and/or instructed by her superiors to perform a number of payroll and financial tasks that she believed were improper. She also discovered numerous discrepancies with payroll and other financial documentation that was prepared before she was employed by the Authority.”

The summary stated that she reported these issues to the Authority’s independent auditor, the Chairman of the Authority and the Vice-Chairman of the Authority. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman did not act on her concerns and she reported the discrepancies to the Rapides Parish District Attorney. The Rapides Parish District Attorney launched a criminal investigation as a result of these reports. The whistleblower was then fired.

According to The Town Talk, the whistleblower alleges she was asked to take part in or discovered the following financial irregularities:

•Writing checks for employees no longer on the payroll.
•Paying employees in excess of what was approved by the authority.
•Paying employees multiple times during the same pay period.
•Paying employees from a “cash fund” rather than a payroll account.
•Failing to remit payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

These violations were confirmed by a state audit, according to The Town Talk. Shortly before the whistleblower was hired, the Coliseum executive director resigned. She was arrested last April in connected with suspicious activities involving Coliseum finances.