Under the Dome

Whistleblower sues DMV

An assistant supervisor for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles' License and Theft Bureau who was fired after blowing the whistle, has filed a lawsuit in federal court to get his job back and collect $800,000 or more in damages.

Ken Cassidy was fired in March 2008 after he was accused of violating an order not to talk to any DMV employees in the emissions program, Dan Kane reports.

Several months earlier, Cassidy had tipped The News & Observer to an improper hire within the program and to the fact that some emissions staff had so little work to do that they were finished with their tasks by lunch time.

Cassidy's information undid the improper hire, which also led to the resignation of the bureau's deputy director and the firing of another assistant supervisor. His information also caused DMV officials to give emissions staff additional duties.

Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison found the order that led to Cassidy's firing "excessive, punitive and unreasonable" and said he should be reinstated. But the State Personnel Commission rejected the opinion. Cassidy has appealed that decision to state Superior Court.

The federal lawsuit names the DMV, the state Department of Transportation and several former and current DMV and DOT officials as defendants, including former DMV Commissioner Bill Gore.

Gore issued the order after learning emissions staff alleged Cassidy had harassed co-workers. Two of those employees acknowledged in a hearing that they were upset that Cassidy had exposed the problems within the emissions program.

Gore and DMV officials said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

More after the jump.


Cassidy's attorney, Michael C. Byrne of Raleigh, said recent DMV actions regarding two other personnel cases suggest the state is taking a hardline against Cassidy for cleaning up the DMV.

The state recently paid $55,000 to settle a wrongful firing complaint filed by former deputy DMV commissioner Wayne Hurder, preventing a public airing of a case that had plenty of political intrigue. Hurder was fired after an extensive internal investigation found he had allowed a former Greene County patronage boss, Eddie Carroll Thomas, long-standing and widespread influence in hiring, work assignments and other personnel matters within the DMV's Driver and Vehicle Services Section.

The DMV also brought back the assistant supervisor involved in the improper hire that Cassidy reported. Purnell Sowell, formerly an assistant supervisor in the Charlotte district, was hired in February as an emissions inspector in Rowan County. His annual salary is $60,311.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Do you think you'd have a job tomorrow if the President/Owner of your company issued you a direct order following complaints from co-workers about you, and you chose not to follow the order???

Here's a little Legal World 101- just bc someone files a lawsuit doesn't mean their a victim or have been wronged. You wouldn't file & then agree to $55,000 settlement & nothing else if a Whistle had really been blown, especially if you were making over $100,000 a year. We aren't just talking about compensation for earnings lost & attorney fees...

Dan Kane is a smart man, he knows what people want to read and how to keep them reading the N&O. Sharing all the facts or the WHOLE truth won't keep the interest of loyal N&O readers. SADLY ITS NOT WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO READ!!

Lastly before assuming or evening believing that state lawyers & employees are sitting around waiting for work, you need to make friends with a State employee & ask them just how much free time they have with the current budget deficit.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

I definately do not think there needs to be anymore unions, just laws to protect the people who whistle blow and enforcement of the laws, there has to be a better way than getting a union involved into it, those just lead to a whole new set of abuses and we the taxpayers end up paying the price of it in increased taxes.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

That I completely agree with, should he get a big judgement it will be us the taxpayer who have to pay the award he gets not those who actually did the deed. This is the problem with it all, yes he was wrongly fired and yes he deserves compensation but why should we the taxpayer get stuck with the bill, that should come out of those who did the wrong doing and it definately was not the taxpayers, we get the shaft everyday by the state and federal government.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Isn't Cherry hospital the one that has the child molester Doctor on staff?

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Let's see, they conducted a thorough investigation, found that the Asst. Supervisor lied during the investigation and obstructed the investigation, they fired him, then hired him back as an inspector at a higher rate than normal inspectors would be hired. Can we say political connections. Why is it the State of North Carolina has such a problem with the firing process. If you had good reason at the time to fire him why do you end up having to hire them back. The stories I could tell about working for the state.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

its at vocational rehabiliattion also. my manager becky setlif in wilmington had the entire office paying 500 a bike and lock purchase izod carhardt clothes because the kmart account was down for an entire year while she did nothing to fix it, i was popular counselor because i actually help people number one in unit this year and i was fired after she decided i should be. they all lied no one to verify any of their lies and if you dont have a 6000 retainer forget sueing. 17 years down the drain.. the directors a jerk too sad

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

hope the guy prevails, the state needs more people willing to speak out and keep things honest. In a related story that might be of interest to any state employees reading this and should be of interest to all people who believe in the constitution Cherry hospital in Goldsboro just unveiled new policy that kind of nips whistleblowing in the bud. Policy says making negative comments about the hospital or quality of care or staff is punishable up to and including dismissal. Does anyone else think free speech is free? Noone will speak out now which is what the policy intends and the public will be in the dark on so much that they have a right to know

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

These various state agency's mangers dont even know what the word honesty & real true integrity even means in the truest sense of the word for if they did there wouldnt be the corruption within these agency's as that i feel that there currently is thank you

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

We need more whistleblowers in this state! Our budget deficit could be erased if they would eliminate all the cush jobs the departments have created for friends. Give the man his $800,000. I'm sure he's going to spend at least half that in lawyer fees to fight the state. (You know the state lawyers are sitting around just waiting for a case to justify their pay)....probably some cush jobs there too!

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Whistleblowing is protected by law, and if in fact the person was terminated for this, they should be reinstated, awarded money as allowed for whistleblowing, and also should be granted money for damages.

Come on people.... Let start showing some

Honesty and Integrity!

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

I hope Mr. Cassidy gets everything he wants. NC is about as bad as it gets.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

It is amazing how few of you can spell or write a proper sentence. It's difficult to take any of your comments seriously. Besides, it makes North Carolina look really bad.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

I believe that instead of the state paying these bills , the individuals
should belly up to pay these finds- enuff hiding behind the state for their incompetence- lets the idiots at DMV pay this out of their pocket

maybe they will do better work

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV


Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

I got news for everyone out there it isn't only happening in the ncdmv the ncdot needs to get a serious looking at while the feds are looking into mikey's actions. The state personnal commission is a total joke ther definetly isn't any real fair an just way for a state employee or former state employee to receive any real form of justice. that is exactly what is wrong right now the violators have had free reign for to long right now an anyone that steps forward to actual tell the truth with state goverment gets severly punished with disparate treatment within the states workforce. these are re very reason that state employees need to be allowed to form an have a union respresing them within the state workforce for there definetly isn't any real fairness within the current system

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

$800,000? seriously? That's an awefull lot of compensation he's asking for 3 months of missed employment...a lot of tax payer's money.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Agreed, I just hope that $800,000 isn't coming out of my pocket.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

I had a recent concern, which taught me a lesson i would soon forget!

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Their is a law! But like most of the useless laws to protect employees, you have to sue, you have to have 1000 of dollars to pay a lawyer, go for years without a job, etc........ and the bad guys keep right on working!

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV


The DMV seems to be full of waste and corruption from top to bottom and taxpayers need to know about it.

Re: Whistleblower sues DMV

Mr. Cassidy should be reinstated. I thought there was a law protecting such individuals from being fired. If people such as Mr. Cassidy do not step forward with information regarding improper procedures, there will be no one to hold these violators accountable. It would be free reign to do as they please and that's not good for the whole.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of Click here to register or to log in.