ND workers comp. staffers tell AG of payback fears

Legal News Line Oct. 24, 2007, 9:41am

Wayne Stenehjem

BISMARCK -- Three senior staffers at the state's troubled workers' compensation bureaucracy have asked North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to protect them as whistleblowers. The HR manager, general counsel and support services chief of North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) all told Stenehjem they feared retaliation for disclosing alleged misdeeds, AP reported today. WSI Chief Executive Sandy Blunt recently returned after six months of paid administrative leave while three felony charges against him were considered. All three charges were dismissed, AP reported. "It has become apparent that the executive management at WSI will go to any length to identify employees who express concern for perceived illegal acts," WSI's HR manager Billi Peltz wrote to Stenehjem. Chief of Support Services James Long wrote that WSI staffers were attempting to oust a state attorney. In an April press release the WSI expressed its full support of Blunt despite the pending charges against him. "These charges are politically motivated against good and honest people trying to do their best for the organization," said WSI Board Chair Robert Indvik. North Dakota grants "whistleblower" protection to state employees who report misuse of public resources or legal infractions by their superiors.

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