Whistleblower suing Dept. of Health for wrongful termination

A former employee at the Department of Health is suing the state and the department for $50,000 after she claims she was wrongly fired for reporting problems within the department.

She filed complaints with the Office of Health Facilities, which was responsible for investigating elder abuse claims. The lawsuit is filed by former health department worker Nancy Omandi. On Wedneday, he appeared with her attorneys who say Omondi was a whistleblower wrongly fired for exposing serious problems within the department to its senior leadership.

“Ms. Omandi had knowledge back in, from 2016 to 2017, about the operation of the Minnesota Department of Health and the problems that they were having, both financially and other ways as well, and she reported them to leadership,” said Phil Villaume, Omandi’s attorney. “And that reporting of the illegalities that resulted in her termination.”

In the six-count lawsuit, it alleges Omandi “was terminated because of her good faith reports regarding…violations of the law or rules, retaliation, discrimination and harassment.”

The lawsuit comes after a completely separate report by the legislative auditor in March that found workplace issues within the Office of Health Facility complaints. It’s the office that investigates claims of elder abuse at care facilities.

“But for far too long they had to work in a culture and in an environment that was dysfunctional and sometimes even toxic,” said Jim Nobles, legislative auditor.

The Department of Health issued a statement today saying it worked with the Department of Management and Budget to hire a new firm to independently investigate Ormandi’s allegations.

The health department says, “In the end, the thorough investigation of her allegations did not substantiate the claims.”

It goes on to say, “We stand by the actions we have taken and continue to ensure accountability for managers and staff.”

The health department noted it has nearly eliminated the backlog of cases filed with the Office of Health Department complaints.

At the end of last year, there were 3,100 uninvestigated reports and as of this week there is just one.