Finance Director Sues for Wrongful Firing

Finance Director Sues for Wrongful Firing

Former Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library finance director Anil Paul has filed suit in Superior Court of Sacramento County, accusing the library of retaliatory termination after he raised concerns about overpayments to a library staffer’s company. Those concerns, he claims, were ultimately validated by an investigation that led to SPL filing suit to recover $1.3 million in restitution and damages. Paul also alleges that his dismissal from his position, with salary and benefits of $180,000 annually, was in retaliation for his refusal to approve improper expenses charged to library credit cards.

Dated February 19 and amended this week, the lawsuit claims that Paul was fired after raising concerns “in or around June 2006” about “the one million dollar overpayment made to one county employee’s company,” and he “had reasonable cause to believe that such actions were violations of state or federal laws, rules, and/or regulations.” At the same time, he made the library aware of “the improper use of county credit cards” by SPL managers. After several months, the suit claims, Paul “observed that these problems had not been resolved and he began refusing to sign checks to cover expenses that were improper.”

In a November 28, 2007, letter to SPL, Paul’s attorney, Robert A. Carichoff, outlined his client’s position and refuted the library’s claim that his dismissal had to do solely with “performance-related factors,” since he had been promoted during his tenure and had not received any written or verbal reprimands. Paul said the library offered early on to settle for $7,000 and later $15,000 but did not respond to his attorney’s settlement offer of $720,000.

Carichoff told American Libraries that he amended his complaint this week after discovering that punitive damages and wrongful termination were not allowable under state law. “What is left is a claim for retaliation,” he said, “technically a whistleblower claim. The library has 30 days to respond to the amended claim,” he added.

“We have investigated all of Mr. Paul’s allegations,” SPL Director Ann Marie Gold told AL, “and we have found them totally without merit, and that is why we are vigorously contesting the claim.”

Posted on April 18, 2008. Discuss.