Jury Trial Underway in Caltech Whistleblower Case

Published : Friday, May 24, 2019 | 4:42 AM

The case of a Caltech scholar who claimed he was fired for whistleblowing, is currently underway in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Farshid Roumi, who worked in Pasadena-based Caltech’s division of engineering and applied science, filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging retaliation and wrongful termination, claiming he was fired in response to his having exposed misappropriation of funds from the Department of Energy, according to City News Service.

Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner is presiding over the case in downtown Los Angeles’s Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Roumi completed his doctoral dissertation at Caltech in 2010 entitled, “Shape Changing Transformations: Interactions with Plasticity and Electrochemical Processes.” He is currently chief executive officer of his own company, Parthian Energy.

Roumi’s is not the first whistleblower retaliation lawsuit to which Caltech has been subjected.

According to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), in 2014, Sandra Troian, a professor at Caltech, filed a complaint saying she had been retaliated against for telling the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a researcher who sent restricted data to Israel and then went public with it.

The retaliation, Troian alleged, entailed being falsely accused of research misconduct, being prevented from participating in campus events, and the denial of more than $1 million in grant funds.

The final disposition of that case is still pending, according to POGO.

Caltech’s whistleblower policy “prohibits retaliation against an individual who makes a good faith disclosure of suspected wrongful conduct.” The Institute also maintains web and telephone whistleblower hotlines.

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