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Housing agency indemnifies director in whistleblower suit

Lawsuits of all types tend to have their own procedural twists and turns. Wrongful-termination lawsuits are certainly no exception to this general rule.

For example, sometimes one of the defendants may be indemnified by the other. An indemnity is an obligation that rests on one party to make good on (i.e., pay for) any loss or damage caused by another.

In this post, we will discuss a case in which a public housing agency agreed to indemnify the executive director of the agency in a wrongful-termination lawsuit.

Both the agency and the executive director were named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was brought by the agency’s former deputy director.

The agency in question is Rhode Island Housing. The agency’s board of commissioners decided yesterday to offer the indemnity to the executive director. The indemnity means that the executive director will not be personally liable if the former deputy director is successful in her wrongful termination lawsuit.

The former deputy director had worked at the housing agency for seven months in a position paying more than $150,000 per year. She brought the wrongful-termination suit after the executive director fired her last December.

The former deputy director contends that she was fired because she was a whistleblower who exposed several critical problems at a homeless shelter operated by the housing agency.

The former deputy director contends that these problems included unpaid staff, inadequate heat and a leaky roof.

The issue about unpaid staff was particularly sensitive. According to the former deputy director, not paying staff implicates criminal culpability.

Source: Providence Journal, "R.I. Housing board protects executive director from liability in wrongful termination suit," W. Zachary Malinowski, Feb. 21, 2014

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