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A judge has awarded a former Western Washington University auditor-turned-whistleblower $3 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university.

Antonia Allen, former director of WWU’s Office of the Internal Auditor, sued the university in December 2020 after she was fired for reporting that staff and faculty at the Woodring College of Education systemically falsified attendance records for students who never showed up to classes so that those students could continue receiving federal financial aid. The “ghost courses” were revealed in a 2020 Seattle Times investigation, along with what another auditor who left voluntarily described as a “culture of fear” at WWU.

Allen’s predecessor in the role, Matthew Babick, had also sued WWU, claiming he was fired in retaliation for investigating a former president’s travel expenses. He settled out of court for $216,000 as part of an agreement in which the university did not admit wrongdoing. In Allen’s case, a county jury found that the public university had retaliated against her in violation of the Washington State Whistleblower Protection Act.

Half of Allen’s award was for back and front pay, for wages lost in the past three years and lifetime wages she would have earned; the other $1.5 million was for emotional harm. Richard Chambers, former president of the Institute of Internal Auditors, told The Seattle Times last week that it was one of the largest settlements he’s seen for this type of case.