Former Jersey City CFO Lubna Muneer has filed a whistleblower suit claiming she was fired earlier this year after she refused to falsify records related to this year’s municipal budget.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Lubna Muneer was not terminated due to misconduct or violation of public policy, but rather in retaliation for her protected conduct set forth below,” her attorney, Sebastian Ionno, wrote in a suit filed in Hudson County Superior Court on Monday.
Muneer was hired by the city on June 10th, 2019 and alleges in the court filing that her qualifications were far beyond those of her boss, Director of Finance John Metro.
Under Metro’s watch, which began in January of this year, Muneer claims through the suit that bank reconciliations, trial balances, and monthly bookkeepings were not updated in a timely fashion by the city comptroller.
In February, Muneer says that she was asked to complete an annual financial statement, though she refused since the comptroller had no submitted the necessary records to complete an accurate filing.
She further alleges that bank reconciliations were not fully completed in 2018 or 2019, and despite conferring with the Department of Local Government Services and the city’s law department, Muneer was terminated on February 25th.
According to the lawsuit, Muneer was told she was fired for “performance issues,” despite not receiving any warnings or a Rice notice prior to being let go.
As a result, she is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, reinstatement, interests, attorney’s fees, cost of suit, and any other relief the court deems just and equitable.
Back in February, Mayor Steven Fulop said Muneer was fired due to poor job performance while Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro called for a thorough review into the matter after she sent a letter to the mayor and city council.
This evening, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione reiterated the administration’s previous position on the matter.
“We already commented on this when she first threatened a lawsuit as a tool for leverage and it didn’t change our posture then, nor does it now. This is a frivolous lawsuit by a disgruntled employee that was terminated for performance issues. We will not comment beyond that.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.