The former director of public information at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is suing the agency after she was demoted and subsequently resigned.
Michelle Lyons says her demotion was retaliation for blowing the whistle on internal violations of state law and policy. Her lawsuit claims she reported “various TDCJ violations to the Office of Inspector General, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state legislators.”
TDCJ, on the other hand, has a simpler explanation. It says it demoted Lyons after an internal investigation found that her time sheets were inaccurate. In addition to demoting Lyons, TDCJ cut her pay, suspended her for five days and put her on a nine-month probation.
Note: Increasingly, courts scrutinize employers’ internal investigations to ensure they were carried out fairly and weren’t just whitewashing over an illegal firing. Investigators should take all complaints seriously, determine the facts and recommend discipline for all employees found to have violated the rules.