An employee of the Harrisonburg Treasurer's Office claims she was demoted for alerting authorities of alleged criminal activity inside the office.
Cynthia Fitzwater, an employee of the Harrisonburg Treasurer's Office, filed suit in the Rockingham County Circuit Court Monday afternoon.
Fitzwater, who is a sworn officer Harrisonburg City Treasurer's Office, claims she was demoted from her supervisory role of Assistant Treasurer in retaliation for being the whistle-blower that led to the investigation of Rebecca Neal, the City Treasurer.
The suit was filed under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act and alleges that Neal demoted Fitzwater in an attempt to get Fitzwater to resign.
In the suit, Fitzwater alleges, "In November 2007, while performing the required duties of her position in connection with a bank statement reconciliation, the plaintiff Fitzwater made a discovery which led to the indictment in February 2008 of the defendant Neal on multiple felony and misdemeanor accounts."
Fitzwater also alleges, "On January 28, 2008, less than one week after the search warrant was executed indicating that the charges being investigated included misuse of public funds, and without valid or just cause, Neal removed Fitzwater's supervisory duties and reduced Fitzwater's salary by five percent."
The suit also claims Neal moved Fitzwater out of her office and located her to a small table in an area of the office that made if difficult to complete her duties.
It also alleges, "Neal also required Fitzwater to surrender her keys to the building."
Two exhibits were filed with the lawsuit. The first is an alleged questionnaire given to Fitzwater by Neal. Fitzwater's response to the questionnaire was submitted as "Plaintiff's Exhibit 2."
In her response, Fitzwater says, "The nature and timing of the questionnaire further reflects your retaliatory intent, directly aimed at the investigation and my involvement."
"Becky, I will not be made a scapegoat," says Fitzwater, in her response letter. "At all times, I have given my best to this office. If I am terminated as a result of my compliance with the law and the duties of the office, I will seek all remedies available to me. You and your husband's recent conduct, including driving past my house, leaving a harassing message on my voice mail and requiring me to respond to the retaliatory questionnaire are blatant attempts at unlawful intimidation. I ask that you cease this conduct and that you restore me to my position as supervisor, with full restoration pay and authority."
To read the full lawsuit filed Monday, see the link below.