- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The former director of a state police crime lab has filed a lawsuit claiming she was demoted for expressing her concerns about the lab.

Soraya McClung filed the lawsuit against the West Virginia state police on Thursday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit said McClung resigned after being demoted to an analyst position last March. She had been with the crime lab for more than 20 years and had been the lab’s director since 2007. Before that, she was the crime lab’s quality assurance director.

After the demotion, “the working conditions created by the defendant were so intolerable that the plaintiff was compelled to resign her employment,” the lawsuit said.

Lawrence Messina, state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman, declined comment on the lawsuit. The department oversees the state police.

The lawsuit claimed McClung’s demotion caused her embarrassment and emotional distress, among other things.

The Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1AuGkWt) reports McClung had told state lawmakers that the lab was understaffed, creating a backlog of thousands of cases, and that she asked for raises for lab employees to compete with salaries in surrounding states.

The lawsuit said McClung had exercised her rights as a private citizen by expressing opinions concerning governmental policies and engaging in lawful political activities related to the crime lab’s conditions and needs.

The lawsuit said state police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers and two others questioned McClung for nearly an hour on March 10 about her political activities. She was demoted a week later, resulting in reduced pay and benefits.

The crime lab provides forensics testing for more than 800 police agencies across the state.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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