A whistleblower lawsuit claiming a Georgia Lottery executive was fired after refusing to support inflated sales projections should go to trial, a Fulton County Superior Court judge decided this week.
Kenneth Knight, former vice president for financial management at the Georgia Lottery, argued that he was pressured by Lottery President Debbie Alford and his boss to present the lottery board with flawed sales projections in April 2014. Knight says in the lawsuit that he told his boss about problems with the numbers, but that they were presented to the board anyway.
About a week after the board meeting, Knight says he was terminated from his job “because of events that took place in March and April of 2014 during the budget process which resulted in misleading information being distributed to our CEO and board of directors,” the lawsuit says.
Knight says he was fired to shift blame and cover up the fact that Alford knowingly presented the board with inflated figures, “an act by her that is both unethical and illegal, and which was motivated solely by unlawful political influence.”
When the lawsuit was filed in 2015, Lottery officials called it “baseless.” They said he was fired “because his superiors lost confidence in his ability to fulfill” the job.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alford Dempsey denied the Georgia Lottery’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In his decision, Dempsey wrote that Knight had “exemplary” performance reviews in his job and that a jury should decide the issue.
Knight’s lawyer, Kim Worth, declined to comment. Joe Kim, senior vice president and legal counsel for the Georgia Lottery said, “We certainly respect the court’s decision.”