Fired NC Public Safety official sues under Whistleblower Act

05/21/2014 2:56 PM

02/15/2015 11:22 AM

A fired state prison health-care employee is suing the N.C. Department of Public Safety and its former deputy secretary under the Whistleblower Act and under a whistleblower-protection provision in state law that was written because of his earlier efforts.

Joe Vincoli of Clemmons filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court, naming the agency and William Ellis Boyle in his official capacity, not personally. Boyle was deputy secretary and general counsel until leaving in March.

Vincoli claims Boyle retaliated against him in December because he tried to report the theft or misuse of state property involving State Health Plan funds at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he used to work.

Public Safety officials repeatedly told Vincoli not to pursue that issue on work time because it had nothing to do with his current job. Vincoli’s attorney, Michael C. Byrne, argues state law required Vincoli to pursue the reported misuse of state money, regardless of where it occurred.

Vincoli contested his firing and last month an administrative law judge ruled that he didn’t have a right to a hearing because as a manager he was exempt from the state personnel law and could be fired at will.

Over the years, Vincoli saved the state millions of dollars by pointing out examples of wasteful spending and lax oversight. State law was changed because of his efforts, extending protection to anyone alleging wrongdoing involving the State Health Plan.

He is suing for unspecified damages, claiming they should be tripled under the state Whistleblower Act, and to be rehired with back pay and benefits.

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