Mark Auslander, director of the MSU Museum, filed a lawsuit March 3 against Michigan State University and three people he alleges violated whistleblower protections.
Auslander had previously received a one-month suspension in January for committing research misconduct and plagiarism while working on the repatriation of a Bolivian mummy.
The lawsuit came after Auslander revealed decades of financial mismanagement. He is seeking more than $25,000 in damages for an alleged violation of the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, conspiracy to commit retaliatory discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“What we're alleging with that count is that Mark Auslander, Dr. Auslander, reported what he believed to be illegal activity,” Stephen Delie, an attorney representing Auslander, said. “Then, as a result of that reporting, he was retaliated against in various forms and ways and the specific facts on those are within the complaint itself.”
The lawsuit says Auslander was suspended for revealing a “misuse of funds and poor management” from former MSU Museum Director Kurt Dewhurst and his wife, MSU Museum Curator of Folk Arts Marsha MacDowell.
“The allegations there are that doctors Dewhurst, MacDowell and (anthropology professor William) Lovis worked together in an effort to lead the defendant university to essentially discharge and otherwise retaliate against Dr. Auslander and cause him harm both reputational and financially,” Delie said.