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Alleged Wrongful Terminations Draw Scrutiny of Western Washington

January 4, 2021
 
 

Western Washington University is drawing scrutiny after two former auditors sued the university, alleging wrongful termination or unfair pressure to resign, The Seattle Times reported.

One former internal auditor, Mathew Babick, sued the university claiming he was pushed out after auditing a former president’s travel expenses. The university settled the case for $216,000 and did not admit liability.

Antonia Allen, Babick’s successor, also sued Western Washington, alleging retaliation and wrongful termination, the Times reported. Another former auditor cited a “culture of fear” within the internal audit office following Allen’s termination and left voluntarily.

Before her termination, Allen completed an audit of so-called ghost courses. The internal audit office found that 20 students had been receiving fraudulent credits between 2016 and 2019 for internship work they didn’t complete. The ghost credits allowed the students to meet requirements for financial aid. Another 31 students were found to have taken or retaken courses without registering. The auditor’s office considered both activities to be fraud.

Western Washington declined comment to the Times.

The Times’ reporting reveals a history of tensions between the internal audit office and the Western Washington administration. In one instance, after Babick resigned, he was escorted by campus police from a closed board audit committee meeting he believed should be public.

Allen repeatedly raised concerns about her lack of independence. She reported to the vice president for business and financial affairs, even though her office regularly reviewed his division.

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