Last October, four corporate investigators at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. were called into a conference room, asked to sit down, and told their services would no longer be needed.
The bearer of the bad news was one of several company executives who had been implicated in a six-month investigation into corporate misbehavior, large severance packages and sexual harassment at the state-run insurer.
The employees claimed that their abrupt firing was an act of revenge but a new report from the state’s chief Inspector General did not find direct evidence of retaliation.
“Based solely on the evidence, the evidence did not support a conclusion that retaliation was the reason for the decision to disband OCI,” wrote Melinda Miguel, chief inspector general of Gov. Rick Scott, in a draft report obtained by the Herald/Times.
Citing the high standards needed to prove retaliation, Miguel's report said the fired investigators did not have enough clear evidence to do so.
It does point out, however, that the allegations of poor performance Citizens used in firing the investigators appeared to come out of the blue. The investigators, who made up the Office of Corporate Integrity, were not accused of poor performance until after their inquiries led to the abrupt resignation of a top executive, tough interrogations of several others and several policy changes.