Senior officials at the state Department of Health and Human Resources want a circuit court judge to dismiss whistleblower lawsuits brought against the department by two other senior officials.
The lawsuits were filed in the wake of a controversial mid-July shakeup of DHHR's senior staff by acting Secretary Rocco Fucillo.
Fucillo barred three DHHR employees from the agency's offices and put them on paid reassignment.
The three questioned the handling of a multimillion-dollar marketing contract that DHHR eventually awarded to the highest bidder. The trio includes the DHHR's deputy secretary for legal affairs Susan Perry, assistant secretary John Law and general counsel Jennifer Taylor.
Perry and Taylor have since filed lawsuits against DHHR and blasted the department for a "track record of errors" that the two had to correct or tried to keep the agency from making.
The suits took aim at Fucillo, deputy secretary Warren Keefer and purchasing director Bryan Rosen.
But DHHR argues Perry and Taylor are not whistleblowers in court filings made this week. The department wants Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge James Stucky to dismiss Taylor and Perry's suits.
Lawyers at Charleston law firm Bailey & Wyant represent DHHR.
DHHR argues Perry and Taylor haven't been retaliated against because the two have been able to keep their titles and their pay.
According to DHHR, the "only limitations placed on their ability to work is the prohibition from entering their offices, must work from home, and may only call (DHHR's human resources director)."
DHHR has paid Perry, Taylor and Law more than $80,000 to work under those conditions. Law is not participating in the whistleblower lawsuit.
Perry and Taylor's attorney, Parkersburg-based Walt Auvil, said he still believes his clients' actions were whistleblower actions protected by state law.