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Published: 9/4/2010

University of Toledo wins wrongful discharge lawsuit

BLADE STAFF
Suzette Fronk, pictured here in this 2007 file photo, said she was fired from the University of Toledo for being a whistle-blower about athletic expenses. Suzette Fronk, pictured here in this 2007 file photo, said she was fired from the University of Toledo for being a whistle-blower about athletic expenses.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

A University of Toledo employee's lawsuit claiming wrongful discharge and a type of invasion of privacy after she questioned athletics department expenditures was decided in favor of the school.

Suzette Fronk, who said she was a whistle-blower, claimed she was fired in May, 2007, for voicing concerns to university athletic and finance officials over travel, items coaches charged on their university-issued credit cards, and contracts negotiated by coaches that would have deprived UT of money it was due.

The suit also claimed that an e-mail to The Blade in which UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien referred to Ms. Fronk as the "ultimate disgruntled employee" and a "tremendous blow to our morale" placed her in a false public light, a type of actionable invasion of privacy claim.

The Ohio Court of Claims, a special state court that handles suits against state agencies, ruled late last month her claim of wrongful discharge was not supported because the court said she was not technically discharged and is still an employee at the university.

She did receive a May 15, 2007, termination letter that said she would receive pay and benefits through August that year. But she was reinstated that July before her last day.

The court also ruled that the description of her in an e-mail as a disgruntled employee and as a blow to morale in the athletics department did not rise to the level of a false-light claim.



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