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Oklahoma health department sued by more than 150 former employees

Posted at 12:28 PM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 13:28:50-05

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- More than 150 current and former employees of the Oklahoma State Health Department are suing the department for unnecessarily terminating or furloughing them in 2017 and 2018.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court alleges wrongful termination, negligence, fraud and violation of the employees' constitutional and due process rights.

The layoffs and furloughs came as department officials said the agency faced a $30 million budget shortfall. An audit and grand jury investigation later found the layoffs and a $30 million emergency state appropriation were unnecessary because the agency maintained a "slush fund" hidden from the governor's office and lawmakers.

Department spokesman Tony Sellars on Wednesday declined comment on the pending litigation.

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