Former TFT administrator files lawsuit against UCLA

Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, is the focus of a lawsuit after a former school official claimed he was fired for whistle-blowing about her actions. (Courtesy of UCLA Newsroom)

Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, is the focus of a lawsuit after a former school official claimed he was fired for whistle-blowing about her actions. (Courtesy of UCLA Newsroom)

A former UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television administrator filed a lawsuit Friday against the university, saying he was fired for whistle-blowing after he ​complained about actions taken by the school’s dean.

Peter Heller, the school’s former executive director of development, said in the lawsuit that he was fired for bringing attention to his concerns that Dean Teri Schwartz had exaggerated the school’s accomplishments and spent university money on first-class flights and hotels.

In May 2013, Heller called a UCLA whistle-blower hotline to report that Schwartz was using university money to pay for first-class flights and expensive meals.

In August 2013, the Center for Investigative Reporting released a report detailing millions of dollars that several UCLA officials spent on luxurious travel expenses. The report, which several other media outlets picked up, indicated that Schwartz spent more than $1,000 for a four-​night stay at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach, which is about 30 miles from campus.

Heller alleged that after he called the hotline, Assistant Vice Chancellor Laura Parker sent him a letter criticizing his performance at work, and about four months later he was fired.

Heller worked with UCLA donors, and had a shaky history with Schwartz before the whistleblower call, according t​o court documents.

Schwartz wrote in a school publication in the 2009-2010 academic year that School of Theater, Film and Television alumni had won 105 Academy Awards, 278 Emmy Awards, 79 Golden Globes and 16 Tony Awards. In the complaint, Heller said the information was inaccurate and alleged that Schwartz artificially inflated the numbers by combining the nominations in each category.

After Schwartz told Heller she would not change the figures, she posted the same information on the school website, according to the complaint. Heller said he asked her to revise the number again, but she insisted on keeping them the same.

In the lawsuit, Heller is asking for unspecified damages.

Compiled by Sam Hoff, Bruin senior staff.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2014/09/20/former-ucla-administrator-files-lawsuit-against-tft/
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