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ITT college director fails in federal appeal over dismissal

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A former director of a California ITT Technical Institute campus failed to convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that he was terminated because he complained about the way the school handled federally subsidized student loans and grants.

The court affirmed a summary judgment ruling and costs in favor of ITT Tuesday in an appeal from Jason Halasa, who directed the company’s Lathrop, Calif., campus for six months in 2009. ITT said Halasa was fired for showing poor management skills and delivering inadequate results.

Halasa sued the school on a claim that his rights were violated under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h).

“We conclude that even if Halasa did engage in protected conduct under the act, he has not shown that he was fired because of this conduct. Thus, we affirm the decisions of the district court,” the court ruled.

Halasa contended that the school was in disarray when he arrived and that employees were engaged in illegal recruiting practices, including being paid on an incentive basis linked to enrollments. ITT countered that it received several complaints about Halasa on its ethics alert line.

“Halasa has not shown that ITT fired him because of any protected conduct. The district court therefore properly granted summary judgment in ITT’s favor, because Halasa failed to respond with evidence on one of the essential elements of his claim for retaliatory discharge in violation of the act,” the court ruled.

The court also affirmed the District Court’s order that Halasa pay ITT’s litigation costs in excess of $36,000.

 

 

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