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Attorney: State health employee blew whistle before firing

January 16, 2021 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A state Department of Health employee says he was fired after questioning the department’s authority to fine a bar that allegedly flouted state rules about crowd size amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Haven Register reports that Av Harris, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, was abruptly terminated on New Year’s Eve.

His attorney, Irene Bassock, wrote in a letter to a DPH attorney, that Harris raised concerns about interfering with a pending criminal investigation and the health department’s legal authority to levy the $10,000 fine against a Bridgeport sports bar.

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“The facts demonstrate that his abrupt termination is illegal retaliation for speaking up about potentially unlawful activity,” Bassock told the newspaper. “Instead of terminating him, Mr. Harris should be commended for how ethically he performed his job.”

A request for comment was sent to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office seeking comment.