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Katrina Researcher Files Wrongful Discharge Lawsuit

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 03, 2010 10:13 AM

A Hurricane researcher is suing his former employer in a wrongful discharge lawsuit. He claims that his former employer pushed him out of his job because they didn't like the findings of his research.

Dr. Ivor van Heerden claims that Louisiana State University "engaged in illegal reprisal" against him while he was the deputy director of LSU's Hurricane Center. He alleges that the reprisal was due to his critical research as well as his harsh testimony regarding the failure of the levees in New Orleans in 2005.

Dr. van Heerden's contract, which is slated to end in May of 2010, is not being renewed by the University. Although LSU failed to comment on the "confidential personnel matters," Dr. van Heerden accuses LSU, according to CNN, of putting "the bureaucratic interests of university officials above the health and safety of millions of people who live in the path of the hurricanes that threaten the Gulf Coast every year."

In his research, Dr. van Heerden was highly critical of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Apparently, the Army Corps is a major funder of LSU, according to the wrongful discharge lawsuit. He blamed the Army Corps for the failure of the levees, which led to the horrific incidents that came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Dr. van Heerden claims harassment and wrongful termination, alleging a "multi-year campaign of retaliation" by LSU. He claims that the University is sending a message to academics everywhere: speak up and you're gone.

As his termination date approaches, Dr. van Heerden has yet to find a new job.   

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