An Ohio court ruled on behalf of Wright State University in a lawsuit filed by a former administrator alleging the school improperly terminated him in 2015 amid a federal investigation into possible violations of U.S. immigration law.
Ohio Court of Claims Magistrate Holly Shaver ruled Sept. 19 that former senior advisor to the provost Ryan Fendley was terminated for documented just cause.
“(Fendley) testified that he knew that the federal investigation concerned visa fraud, which is a crime,” Shaver wrote in her order.
Former WSU president David Hopkins had testified in the case that federal agents had left him with the impression Fendley was about to be indicted for visa fraud. Neither Fendley, nor anyone else, have been charged criminally in the investigation that became public in May 2015.
Fendley’s attorney had argued that communication from the university to his client didn’t specifically state what he did wrong to merit dismissal, and Hopkins testified that if Fendley is never charged criminally he would consider firing Fendley a mistake.
Fendley’s lawsuit sought nine months of salary and benefits. His salary when he left the university was $169,146.
But the court ruled that Hopkins had grounds to terminate him.
“Although the letters that defendant sent do not specifically state that the ongoing investigation pertained to visa fraud, both plaintiff and Hopkins knew that was the reason for the investigation,” Shaver’s order says.
Fendley and the university had settled a separate breach of contract lawsuit he brought against Wright State Applied Research Corporation with WSARC agreeing to pay him $13,209.
Fendley was one of four university administrators suspended in relation to the federal probe in May 2015. Former provost Sundaram Narayanan is still on the university payroll, though records obtained by the I-Team show that WSU officials initiated the process of terminating him this month.
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