“This case involves cut-throat politics and cronyism at Metro,” Pauline Higgins said in the lawsuit filed in state district court. It seeks her reinstatement, unspecified damages and legal fees under the Texas Whistleblower Act.
Her lawsuit claims Higgins lost her job because Metro’s president and chief executive officer, Frank Wilson, resisted her efforts to bring the agency into compliance with state laws regarding document retention and to correct other problems, such as hiring third-party contractors without contracts or allowing them to work after their contracts had lapsed.
Prior to her arrival, the suit says, Metro’s legal department was “disorganized and dysfunctional,” and its employees “often came to work and left at their leisure.”
After she was fired, the suit states, Metro officials, including former Chairman David Wolff, sought to discredit Higgins in their public statements.
Wolff alleged that it was Higgins that was responsible for the shredding. In a Rick Casey column, Metro CEO Frank Wilson also attacked Higgins:
Far from firing Higgins because she pressed them to get their document and e-mail retention policies in order, [Wolff and Wilson] said, they had asked Higgins to develop a policy months ago. They claimed she only recently produced one, and that it was not in good enough shape to take to the board.
But that’s not why they fired her.
They fired her, they said, because she was a horrible manager of her department.
“A trickle, then a flood of people came to me,” Wilson said. “They were agitated, in tears.”
He said Higgins had bullied them to the point that “they had feelings of zero worth.”
You can hear more of what Wolff said in my interview with him. This case ought to be very interesting, that’s all I can say. I just hope that someday, Metro can go back to being a transit agency again.
UPDATE: Houston Politics has a copy of the suit.