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Former Will County Community Health Center CEO Says She Was Fired For Reporting Federal Violations

Former Will County Community Health Center Chief Executive Officer Mary McHugh-Coffey filed a lawsuit claiming she should have been protected by the Illinois Whistleblower Act when she was fired.

The Will County Community Health Center
The Will County Community Health Center
The former Chief Executive Officer of the Will County Community Health Center claims she was fired for reporting violations of federal regulations.

Mary McHugh-Coffey made the allegations in a lawsuit filed in Will County court. McHugh-Coffey named the community health center, the Will County Health Department, health department Executive Director John Cicero, Will County Human Resources Director Bruce Tidwell and county Administrative Services Director Sue Olnek as defendants.

In July 2012, McHugh-Coffey "reported to the federal government that the WCCHC and WCHD were not in compliance with federal regulation governing their funding and programs," the lawsuit said. "This information was ultimately reported to the Office of the Inspector General for the United States government."

The following month, Coffey alerted the county's finance committee that the community health center and health department were not in compliance with federal regulation, the suit said. She also reportedly notified the U.S. Inspector General and the board of health.

Coffey went on vacation soon after, the suit said, and two days after her return was brought into a meeting and subjected to "corrective action" followed by a "retaliatory investigation."

Less than six months later, the "defendants terminated Ms. Coffey's employment, stating that they had 'lost confidence' in her," the lawsuit said.

"In response to Ms. Coffey's protected reporting, defendants terminated her employment," the suit said.

Coffey's termination was a violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act and the people she is suing "knew that it was unlawful to terminate" her, the lawsuit said.

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