$11 Million Lawsuit Says Richland 1 Underpaid Employees

The woman says dozens of employees were underpaid intentionally by the district.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A federal whistleblower lawsuit says officials in a South Carolina school district fired a woman who reported that dozens of employees weren't being paid properly in violation of federal law.

The $11 million lawsuit filed this week said Richland District One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon and the district's human resources manager conspired to fire the woman for reporting the underpayments.

Machelle Thompson says she was formally reprimanded, then fired after repeatedly informing the district's human resources director about the errors. Thompson says the district intentionally misclassified more than 40 employees to avoid paying them money they were owed.

A spokeswoman for the district didn't immediately return an email message seeking comment. Thompson's lawyer says he's been told federal labor officials are looking into the underpayments.

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