Medical examiner sues county for wrongful termination

CHARLOTTE — A Mecklenburg County medical examiner employee, who spent five years responding to tragic and violent crime scenes, is currently fighting the county in court.

Eric Wheeler was fired over his posts on social media, and he told Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos he wants his job back.

“I felt like I was an advocate for the deceased,” Wheeler said.

He said he had a stellar record and two promotions but in 2017, a fellow employee claimed he shared confidential case information on social media by posting pictures.

“Many of the photos I took, I thought were artistic in nature,” Wheeler said. “Scenery, police cars, things of that nature — never anything graphic. Never anything that identified any deceased individuals.”

Wheeler was fired by Mecklenburg County, which was a disciplinary move his attorney, Josh Van Kampen, said was unfair.

The attorney said other employees facing disciplinary matters got second chances.

“The county human resource managers owe it to them to be judicious in making decisions and applying uniform standards for performance and conduct, and we don’t think that’s happening at least in Mr. Wheeler’s case,” Van Kampen said.

The lawsuit against the county claims wrongful discharge and civil rights violations, and it asks a judge for damages and Wheeler’s job back.

“I want to clear my name,” Wheeler said. “And I want Mecklenburg County to change the way it treats employees and make it equal across the board.”

Channel 9 contacted Mecklenburg County Tuesday and asked for a response to claims employees are not equally disciplined. A spokesperson said they can’t comment on pending litigation.