An assistant auditor has sued the state, claiming that his bosses are going after him because he is a Republican.
Darryl Black sued the Office of the State Auditor, saying that after Democratic Auditor Beth Wood was elected, supervisors in her office began pressuring him to take a voluntary layoff because he is a Republican.
A spokesman for Wood and the Auditor's Office said he could not comment on the lawsuit because it involved personnel issues.
Prior to 2007, Black says in the lawsuit, he received good or even outstanding performance reviews. In 2008, before the most recent election for auditor, Black wrote letters published in The News & Observer. He did not identify himself as a state employee and the issues he wrote about were not connected to his duties as an auditor.
Black previously had run for the legislature as a Republican and he believed his managers knew of his political leanings.
More after the jump.
After the letters were published, Black's supervisor criticized the letters, saying they could diminish his "value to the office."
In 2009, Wood, a Democrat, defeated then-Auditor Les Merritt, a Republican. On his next review, his supervisor wrote that he had "grave concerns about the letters as objectivity is a fundamental element to the independence of all auditors...Letters appear to have stopped after discussion with supervisor."
In June, the auditors office laid of an administrative employee who had been in the office for 23 years, who was also a Republican, according to the lawsuit.
Shortly after Black's performance review, a supervisor raised claims about Blacks' proficiency. On Aug. 13, Black was offered a voluntary buyout. He was told he was the only one being offered the package and involuntary layoffs could loom over the office.
In the lawsuit, Black's attorney, Michael C. Byrne of Raleigh, wrote that Black is being run out of the office, "based not upon legitimate organizational needs but on the illegal and unconstitutional grounds of [Black's] party affiliation and registration."
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction against the auditor's office that would prevent any action against Black while the case is heard.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the administrative employee who had previously been let go. The employee is a 23-year veteran of the office, not a 23-year-old. Dome regrets the error.