The former deputy commissioner for insurance at the Minnesota Department of Commerce has set aside a whistleblower lawsuit against the state in which he claimed he was sexually harassed and then retaliated against by department officials.
Timothy Vande Hey wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune on Friday that he ran out of funds to pursue the case.
Mike Rothman, the commissioner of the Commerce Department, said in a statement that “voluntarily dismissing the lawsuit clearly shows that the allegations were simply false and had absolutely no merit.”
Filed in April in Ramsey County District Court, the lawsuit alleged that Vande Hey was the subject of unwanted sexual advances from a co-worker, and that Commerce officials didn’t take action after he expressed concerns.
Vande Hey also alleged that a Commerce official suggested that certain documents containing internal department communications be destroyed, which was in direct violation of the law, according to the lawsuit. Vande Hey alleged that in retaliation for blowing the whistle on what he regarded as data practice violations, Commerce officials created a hostile work environment that forced him to leave.
Commerce strongly denied the accusations when the suit was filed. On Friday, Rothman said in a statement: “This action demonstrates that the suit was completely frivolous.”
Vande Hey had served as the deputy commissioner of the insurance division from February 2013 until he resigned last summer. He had previously been an assistant commissioner. Since leaving the department, Vande Hey has been doing consulting work.
Vande Hey has the option to reinstate the lawsuit in the future, said his attorney, Marshall Tanick. “He’s decided he wants to move on, move forward and put this matter behind him as best he can,” Tanick said.