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State employees terminated after allegedly reporting violations of law

Two former high-profile employees with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) are filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the commission. The lawsuit claims that the employees faced retaliation and were wrongfully dismissed after reporting alleged legal violations that they discovered.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Travis County District Court, two female staffers suspected the agency of committing several legal infractions. When they reported these incidents to HHSC, the agency's leadership allegedly lashed out at the claimants, targeting them for reporting the violations. The women state that they were excluded from several important meetings for the programs that they oversaw. One litigant also claims that she was subject to a baseless investigation and that her signature was forged by one of her supervisors on a negative performance review.

Their wrongful termination lawsuit claims that this retaliation went on for several weeks before the staffers were fired without notice last October. The lawsuit requests monetary damages between $200,000 and $1,000,000 and seeks to reinstate the employees to their former positions. The alleged legal violations that the employees reported to their supervisors have not yet been revealed; the San Antonio Express News reports that the HHSC is suing the attorney general to keep the allegations private.

Federal and state law protects public employees in certain circumstances when they act as whistleblowers. Representatives for the HHSC claim that the agency based its decision to dismiss the women on lawful business reasons.

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