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Maine Settles Whistleblower Lawsuit with Former Health and Human Services Employee

Feb 19, 2015

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services will pay a former employee $142,500 to settle a federal whistleblower lawsuit.

A former division director for the Maine Center for Disease Control sued DHHS and her bosses at the CDC. She said they harassed and retaliated against her for refusing to shred public documents. DHHS released the settlement agreement Friday, the Bangor Daily News reports. A co-plaintiff, a CDC office manager, will be paid $22,500 by the state, and the state also will pay $85,000 to cover their legal bills. Under the terms of the settlement, the DHHS, the CDC director and deputy director, and the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity and its director admit no wrongdoing. A confidentiality agreement prevents either side from discussing the settlement’s contents but a clause in the agreement allows the settlement’s release as required by the Freedom of Access Act.

In April 2013, Leahy-Lind filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that her bosses ordered her to shred public documents related to funding the Healthy Maine Partnerships program. They wanted the documents destroyed, she said, to prevent the Sun Journal newspaper and the public from seeing them, according to the Bangor Daily News. She said when she refused, she was assaulted and harassed. She resigned in July 2013, saying her bosses made it impossible for her to do her job. In October 2013, she filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit, saying DHHS officials retaliated against her for refusing to destroy documents, publicly defamed her and violated her rights.

CDC leaders admitted that employees were told to destroy public documents and that those documents showed scoring was changed at the end of a competitive grant process, sending public money to an organization that was favored by CDC leaders but that had not originally scored high enough to receive the funding.

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