The state auditor's office says an employee asked for a voluntary layoff, changed his mind and then filed suit because he fears a layoff.
Attorneys representing the auditor filed a motion Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Darryl Black, an assistant state auditor who says his bosses have targeted him because his is a Republican.
Black claimed in his suit that his bosses approached him about a buyout and mentioned that involuntary layoffs were impending, which Black took to mean that his days at the office were numbered. A spokesman for Auditor Beth Wood said the office has a different interpretation how talk started about the buyout, known in state government as a Reduction in Force or RIF.
"This fella came to us and asked for a voluntary RIF, which involves us paying severance pay among other things and health benefits and we agreed to that and go back to him with the paperwork, and all of a sudden he's changed his mind," said Dennis Patterson, a spokesman for the office. "And now we're being sued for trying to accommodate him."
Patterson said that under Republican Auditor Les Merritt, Black had quit his job and returned a day later. He was hired back with the understanding that he would find a new job.
"We inherited this fellow," Patterson said. "Party registration is simply not a factor. It's competence."
Black's attorney, Michael C. Byrne of Raleigh, said "They are free to characterize their actions how they wish and we look forward to seeing how they are characterized under oath in a court of law."
More after the jump.