Former Oklahoma State Department of Health employee suing over ‘retaliation termination’ for opposing discrimination

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A former investigator for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is now suing the state claiming he found discrimination in the work place, but he alleges the state wanted to cover it up. 

“His job was to investigate and determine whether or not discrimination existed,” said Amber Hurst, Matthew Terry’s attorney. “I believe he did all of the right things. He tried.”

Terry is alleging he lost his job by simply doing it.

“Mr. Terry claims that there were several employees that came to him and reported that they were being discriminated against because they have either FMLA leave or sought FMLA leave or because they needed accommodations for disabilities, some kind of medical condition,” Hurst said.

Court documents go into details of some of the alleged discrimination, saying the Human Resources director “made discriminatory comments and engaged in discriminatory conduct toward those with disabilities.”

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Oklahoma State Department of Health

The documents also state that around June 2019, she said, “I won’t hire disabled veterans” and that disabled veterans were “not qualified to clean toilets.” 

“Mr. Terry found that she had wanted to make this more difficult,” Hurst said.

Hurst says Terry did find discrimination within the State Department of Health. In September 2019, Terry reported his findings to his supervisor, the Director of Office Accountability Systems. But–

“He was told subsequently, as he alleges in the complaint, to modify that report in order to find that discrimination did not happen. He refused to do so,” Hurst said. 

Then in November 2019, “Mr. Terry was involuntarily terminated,” saying his “job position had been eliminated.”

“This is not a ‘he said she said’ case. There are multiple witnesses that have facts that will verify and corroborate Mr. Terry’s version of events,” Hurst said. “Employees should be protected from discrimination.”

The case has been moved from county court to federal court. We did contact The State Department of Health for their side of the story but they can’t comment on pending litigation.

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