Regional
11:01 am
Sun July 8, 2012

Fired Health Official Sues New Mexico

A lawsuit by a former manager at the New Mexico Department of Health alleges that he was fired for telling a newspaper about what he considered to be financial fraud within the agency.  The Albuquerque Journal reports that a lawsuit filed Friday by Robert F. Ortiz, the former deputy director of the agency's administrative services, contends that Ortiz's comments to the media last year were protected speech.

Health Department spokesman Chris Minnick declined to comment on the lawsuit, but the agency's dismissal letter said that Ortiz's publicized comments constituted "disingenuous or irresponsible communication with the media" that created a hostile work environment for his colleagues.

The letter also said the evidence "pointed more correctly to an incidence of accounting errors and systemic issues," not to the fraud Ortiz alleged.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.