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Former COO accuses Las Vegas charity of retaliatory firing

A woman who served as chief operations officer of Sunrise Children's Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the charity, claiming that she was fired in  mid-2011 in retaliation for going to her superiors with information that funds were misused and misspent to the tune of $900,000. The wrongful termination litigation claims that the Las Vegas-based SCF breached her employment contract and violated public policy.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff went to work for SCF in January 2011 after being lured from her executive position at the United Way of Southern Nevada. Prior to that job, she had spent nine years as COO of the Jewish Foundation of Las Vegas. She signed a two-year employment contract with SCF, which provides services for children such as Early Head Start programs and nutrition services.

The plaintiff claims that she discovered financial improprieties in the way SCF handled funds, especially a federal grant from the Early Head Start program. The money, which was earmarked for specific SCF programs, was apparently being spent on other projects. She reportedly determined that the charity was not in compliance with federal with state and federal regulations governing nonprofits and reported the problem to her bosses.

Shortly after presenting her concerns, the plaintiff was told her COO position was being eliminated. According to the lawsuit, SCF leadership told her that firing was due to financial problems at the nonprofit.

But the lawsuit alleges that the firing was retaliatory and a breach of the employment contract. The plaintiff is seeking lost wages and unspecified damages, including punitive damages.

An attorney for SCF declined to comment on the litigation, except to say his client is "confident of a positive outcome" for the case.

Source: VEGAS INC, "Exec for Sunrise charity says she was fired for revealing financial misdeeds," Steve Green, Jan. 23, 2012

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