A former Flint, Michigan city administrator’s whistleblower retaliation complaint against the city has been revived by a federal appeals court.
According to Michigan Radio, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said there’s a key dispute over significant facts in Natasha Henderson’s whistleblower claim that a jury should sort out.
“Henderson has mustered sufficient circumstantial evidence of a retaliatory motive to prevent summary judgment,” Circuit Judge Jane B. Stranch wrote in an opinion as part of a three-judge panel, according to MLive.
In August 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox dismissed Ms. Henderson’s complaint against the city of Flint, saying that her allegations were not protected activity under the Whistleblower Protection Act or the First Amendment.
Ms. Henderson, once the top administrator for the city of Flint, claims she was fired for calling out what she says were corrupt activities by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. She filed the whistleblower lawsuit in May 2016 in U.S. Court in Detroit, alleging she was terminated after she asked the city attorney’s office to investigate Mayor Weaver’s handling of Flint water crisis donations.
According to MLive, Ms. Henderson alleges the mayor redirected donations from a Flint water crisis charity into a personal account.
The mayor refuted the allegations, calling them “outrageous” and “completely false.” She maintains that she fired Ms. Henderson for failing to inform her in a timely manner about a spate of Legionnaires’ Disease cases that broke out amid the Flint Water Crisis.
Ms. Henderson argues that she informed the mayor about the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Flint multiple times, including in a pair of emails, starting in November 2015.
According to MLive, Flint city council members wrote a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, claiming that Mayor Weaver acted of her own accord in firing Ms. Henderson without consulting or notifying the council.
Additionally, more than a week after she fired Ms. Henderson, the mayor asked the Flint city council in a resolution to support Ms. Henderson’s termination. According to MLive, the city council had voted against terminating Ms. Henderson in a February 2016 meeting.