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Former Delray Beach employee fired for exposing water quality issues, lawsuit claims

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 17:51:42-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A former city of Delray Beach wastewater inspector claims in a new lawsuit she was fired for exposing water quality issues.

She already filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, and now she’s suing the city in federal court.

The 29-page lawsuit claims the city of Delray Beach retaliated against Christine Ferrigan and violated her Constitutional right to free speech and the state’s Whistleblower Act.

The suit names the city, city manager, and utilities director as defendants.

It alleges the defendants harassed and fired Ferrigan for "exposing that partially treated sewer water was flowing into the city’s drinking water causing some people and pets to become ill."

Ferrigan said she discovered and reported that the city’s water utility pipes were plagued with inadequate backflow protections and other problems.

Ferrigan's disclosures resulted in a Florida Department of Health investigation that ended with a $1 million fine in a consent order.

The city fired Ferrigan in January from her $53,000 a year job, five days after she filed an internal complaint about being bullied for cooperating with DOH investigators, according to the lawsuit.

"You can’t go after people who are looking out for the community and following the rules and regulations," Ferrigan told WPTV Contact 5 Investigator Michael Buczyner on Tuesday. "This is public health and safety. It was about the drinking water."

A city spokesperson told Buczyner the city does not comment on pending litigation.

The city told WPTV in April that its drinking water is tested daily to ensure it meets all standards for quality and safety.

Meanwhile, Ferrigan is asking for her job back and be compensated for an undisclosed amount of alleged damages.

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