A state appeals court in Louisiana has ruled that a former employee of Rapides Parish Coliseum can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit against the Coliseum Authority.
The employee sued the Coliseum Authority in July 2013, claiming she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about financial improprieties in the Coliseum operations. Ninth District Judge George C. Metoyer Jr. ruled in favor of the Coliseum Authority on technical grounds. He granted the authority’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the whistleblower claim, the Town Talk newspaper reports. But on Wednesday, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the ruling and remanded the case back to the 9th District Court for further proceedings.
The appeals court found “the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on an issue not asserted by the Authority in its motion.” But the 3rd Circuit denied the former employee’s request for it to take up the whistleblower lawsuit itself, saying the issues involved are not “properly before this court,” according to Town Talk.
The plaintiff was hired as an office manager at the Coliseum on Feb. 21, 2013 and fired three months later. During her employment, she said she was “asked and/or instructed by her superiors to perform a number of payroll and financial tasks that she believed were improper,” the ruling said. She also discovered discrepancies with payroll and financial documentation prepared before her employment, according to Town Talk. She reported these discrepancies to the authority’s independent auditor and to the authority’s chairman. She was fired on May 20, 2013, and she then sued the Coliseum Authority “seeking relief under the whistleblower statute,” according to court documents.
The fired office manager alleged, among other improper actions, that she was asked to write checks for employees no longer on the payroll; to pay employees in excess of what was approved by the authority; and to pay employees from a “cash fund” rather than a payroll account, Town Talk reports.