A former accountant at Adapt is suing the nonprofit agency for more than $1 million after she said she was forced to resign for reporting a series of “financial irregularities,” including potentially illegal activities, carried out by top managers.
The complaint levels serious accusations, mostly against Susan Jeremiah, director of human resources for Adapt.
The 10-page complaint was filed on Sept. 2 by Roseburg attorney Jason Montgomery, on behalf of his client, Kathren Woody. Woody contends she lost her job because she allegedly uncovered “misappropriation or theft of corporate assets and credit for personal use by employees.”
According to the complaint:
Woody was hired by Adapt in October 2016 as an accountant to oversee accounts payable, vendor accounts and contracts. Her job duties included reviewing Adapt’s financial records for irregularities and reporting any such financial irregularities to her superiors.
During Woody’s employment she repeatedly reported such irregularities, including: numerous charges Jeremiah made on a company credit card for her own personal expenses, such as gas, clothing, cell phone bills, an ipad and computer equipment purchases, an airplane ticket, food and restaurant charges, and items purchased on Amazon, the complaint said. None of the reported purchases were business-related.
Woody reported these purchases to Jeremiah and to other supervisors and administrators at Adapt on numerous occasions, according to the complaint.
In July 2018, Woody’s reporting of these “financial improprieties” led to her being called into a meeting with Jeremiah’s superiors, including the CEO, Gregory Brigham, and the CFO, Janet Tribble. The next day Tribble verbally reprimanded Woody for “sharing financial information” despite the fact that it was Woody’s duty to report such financial improprieties, the complaint said.
Tribble reportedly told Woody that Jeremiah had been instructed by Brigham and Tribble not to use her company credit card for anything other than business-related expenditures. In subsequent correspondence with another Adapt employee, Jeremiah stated that she would “absolutely tighten” up her activities — “an implicit admission that she had been misappropriating corporate funds,” the complaint said.
Jeremiah retained her position as the head of Human Resources, “despite her admitted financial improprieties,” according to the complaint. “Adapt treated Defendant Jeremiah leniently and with favoritism with regard to her misconduct, and differently than it treated its lower level employees with regard to disciplinary matter,” the complaint said.
In February 2019, Jeremiah allegedly had Woody write a check to Jeremiah’s son for work that he had not performed, so that he could close on a real estate purchase. Jeremiah’s son never did do any work for the money, the complaint said. Jeremiah also had checks written to her daughter and son-in-law for “purported services” to Adapt, without requiring them to turn in time sheets showing the hours they had worked. Woody reported such “misconduct” several times to Tribble, according to the complaint.
Woody also reported to Tribble that Deborah Phillips, director of client services at Adapt, was signing off on her mother’s time sheets in violation of the agency’s anti-nepotism policy.
In response to her actions, Phillips and Jeremiah retaliated against Woody by “probing into her private conversations” with another employee and searching Woody’s personal and private instant messages to look for dirt on Woody, the complaint said.
This May, Woody was brought into a meeting with Tribble in which she was told to either resign on the sport or be terminated, the complaint said. When Woody asked for a day to consider the separation agreement, Adapt denied her request and “insisted that she sign it immediately, or that she would be immediately fired and they would contest her unemployment compensation claim,” the complaint said.
Woody signed the agreement.
The complaint seeks $100,000 for “economic damages” that resulted from her termination and $899,999 for the emotional distress she allegedly suffered. The complaint also seeks interest, attorney fees and costs associated with the complaint.
In a brief response to the complaint, Adapt CEO Gregory Bingham said: “The allegations in Ms. Woody’s complaint are without merit, and we are confident that Adapt will prevail on those claims at trial. Beyond that, we do not publicly discuss personnel matters involving our current and former employees.”
Adapt was officially served notice of the complaint on Sept. 11, and has not yet responded to it, according to court records.
This is the second time Montgomery has filed a complaint against Adapt since June.
In the previous case, a former employee claimed that the nonprofit organization fired her because she got pregnant and took a medical leave after giving birth to her child.
Kayla Fields, who claimed she was fired while on maternity leave, also sued Adapt for more than $1 million. Adapt never responded to that complaint and because of that was found to be in default.
The two sides settled the complaint for an undisclosed amount of money in August. Neither Montgomery or Adapt would discuss that case.