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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Whistle Blown on Med School & Animals

DALLAS (CN) - A manager claims in court that the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center fired her after she blew the whistle on violations of humane treatment of animals rules at the Dallas medical school.

Donna Pulkrabek sued the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Southwestern Medical Foundation, The University of Texas System Medical Foundation and the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System in Dallas County Court.

Pulkrabek says the school conducts medical research testing on a nonexhaustive list of animals that includes dogs, goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, frogs and fish.

To carry out the testing, the school must comply with federal rules on their treatment. Pulkrabek's job was to investigate and report on the medical school's compliance with such requirements.

She claims that in January she notified the school's Office of Institutional Compliance that the school was "grossly noncompliant" with the regulations and that the office did little to address her concerns.

Pulkrabek says that after she and a fellow medical school employee raised the concerns again to school committee members and the dean of basic research in April, there again was no resolution.

In May, she reported her findings to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, a federal agency.

"Unfortunately, the plaintiff's employer began to retaliate against the plaintiff for having reported the non-compliance issues to OLAW," the 6-page complaint states.

"On May 23, 2012, plaintiff was placed on administrative leave so that her employer could 'investigate' the non-compliance issues that, of course, the plaintiff had been making since January 2012."

Pulkrabek says the defendants chided her in a May 23 letter for reporting the non-compliance to OLAW. She says she was not allowed to return to work and was fired on Aug. 31.

She seeks back pay, front pay and punitive damages for violations of the Texas Whistleblower Act.

She is represented by Wes Dauphinot with Hutchison Lewis of Grapevine.

Follow @davejourno
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