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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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VP Says College Fired Her for Whistleblowing

MIAMI (CN) - An assistant vice president claims Florida International University fired her for reporting mismanagement and waste, and for objecting to the school's public plea that "it did not have enough funds to operate at the level it had previously operated, thereby cutting jobs and raising tuition," while failing to disclose that it was sitting on a $17 million cash reserve.

Patricia Bamford sued the school for whistleblower violations in Miami-Dade County Court. The Miami-based school claims enrollment of 44,000 and has a law school.

In her 5-page complaint, Bamford says: "She believed it was improper for FIU to hold $17 million in reserve and fail to disclose the existence of these funds while at the same time FIU communicated publicly that it did not have enough funds to operate at the level it had previously operated, thereby cutting jobs and raising tuition, along with other cost-saving measures."

She adds: "During 2009, Bamford reported to several FIU officials and employees FIU's gross mismanagement and gross waste of public funds that she had discovered. The nature of the information Bamford disclosed involved acts or suspected acts of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, and/or gross neglect of duty committed by an employee or agent of FIU."

She says she reported her concerns to the college's Interim Chief Financial Officer John Miller, Associate Vice-President of External Relations Terry Witherell, Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources Kathryn Fisk, and Vice-President of Human Resources Jaffus Hardrick.

Bamford said her written statements to the college's top officers "constitute protected activity" under Florida's Whistleblower act, and that "There is a causal connection between Bamford's protected disclosures and FIU's decision to terminate her employment."

Bamford sued the Florida International University Board of Trustees, seeking lost wages, costs, reinstatement or an equivalent job, or front pay and benefits instead of reinstatement. She is represented by Cynthia Sass of Tampa.

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