Sunday, June 4, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fired for Fighting Corruption, Worker Says

(CN) - A city worker claims he was fired for protesting that the city paved the parking lot of a private office complex where a city councilwoman ran her real estate business. Tommy Bray says his bosses in Santa Fe, Texas, saw nothing wrong with that, so he took his concerns to a newspaper - and the trouble began.

In his federal complaint in Galveston, Bray, formerly a city maintenance worker, says his bosses fired him for going public with his concerns about government corruption and preferential treatment.

Bray says he told the Galveston County Daily "that I would get fired if I even took a shovel of asphalt home and put it on my private property. I think this kind of corruption needs to be brought to the attention of our taxpayers, which a lot of them are on fixed incomes, trying to figure out how to get their next prescription filled, and they shouldn't have to worry about our local government wasting the tax dollars."

He says the article drew a lot of public comment, and his brother, Danny, followed it up by taking out an ad in the same newspaper to protest the paving work.

After his brother's ad appeared, the city manager told Tommy Bray that he "was guilty by association for his brother's ad," according to the complaint.

Tommy Bray says he worked for the City of Santa Fe from 2004 until he was fired in 2009. He says his bosses harassed him so often he took to carrying a recording device to work, for fear they would trump up charges against him, such as insubordination.

Sure enough, Bray says, his bosses soon gave him an "Improvement Plan," that stated, among other things: "Has shown little respect for supervisors. ... Does not take criticism well. Need to take better care of city equipment."

They also banned recording devices at work.

He says that when he complained to the city manager, the city manager blamed him, for creating an "adversarial atmosphere."

Eventually, he was fired. He seeks lost wages and damages for emotional distress.

He is represented by Anthony Griffin of Galveston.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.