An Alexandria jury has awarded former city architect Henry Lewis back pay under a new whistleblower law for his efforts to stop a contractor from cutting corners and overcharging on the new Alexandria Police Department headquarters, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
According to the report, an Alexandria jury on March 8 awarded $104,050 in back pay to Lewis, who has 35 years of construction management experience and served as a senior project manager for the $81-million building on Wheeler Avenue.
Alexandria City Attorney Jim Banks told Patch the city plans to appeal.
Lewis was fired Aug. 3, 2011, about a month after a new whistleblower law—the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act—went into effect and three months before the headquarters opened.
Lewis’ lawyer, Zachary Kitts of Fairfax-based K&G Law Group, is seeking an additional $246,528 for loss of pension benefits, front pay and paid leave, according to the article by Peter Vieth.
Alexandria Circuit Court Judge James Clark presided over the case. Clark will decide whether Lewis should be reinstated to his job and if not, how much he should be compensated.
Lewis also has a request for the judge, according to the article—that his name is added to the dedication plaque on the building. Lewis spent 3 1/2 years on its design and was dismayed when his name was not included with others who had contributed to its creation.
In the case, Henry Lewis v. City of Alexandria, Virginia, Lewis and his lawyer file suit against the city and Director of General Services Jeremy McPike for “wrongful termination and discrimination.”
Lewis expressed concerns with contractor Whiting-Turner on the police project and a related project he was working on at 133 S. Quaker Lane, according to court documents obtained by Patch.
For example, Lewis’ court filing says roof trusses to be used in building 133 S. Quaker were made of wood, as required, but they were delivered to the construction site “covered with mold and warped.”
They were replaced, but Whiting-Turning shortly afterward, according to the case filing, requested that Lewis be removed from the police project and replaced by McPike. However, McPike could not replace Lewis because McPike is not a licensed architect.
The case also claims Whiting-Turner submitted false invoices and received payment on those invoices from the city despite Lewis' effort to bring the problem to his superiors' attention.
Ultimately, Lewis claims in court documents that his continuing efforts to stop fraud and false claims against the city resulted in his termination.
He was asked to resign from the city, refused to sign documents presented by the city's Human Resources Department and was terminated, according to legal documents.