CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire state health department employee alleges the agency is failing to protect children and that she has been retaliated against for speaking on the issue publicly, according to a lawsuit against the department.

Social worker Anna Carrigan filed suit earlier this month against the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, New Hampshire Public Radio reported Thursday.

Carrigan’s attorney, Michael Lewis, said the state is not meeting a legal requirement to respond and assess child welfare cases within 60 days.

Lewis said Carrigan has been retaliated against in the form of “inconsistent and arbitrary directives and other conduct that have suppressed and chilled her ability to speak to the public and press” about the agency’s dysfunction.

The department has struggled with high caseloads, inadequate staffing and other issues. A watchdog report based on a review of child fatalities released in October called on the state’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families New Hampshire’s to address systemic problems, including an outdated filing system, strained relationships with other agencies and internal biases among staff members.

Carrigan’s case seeks a court injunction that would force reforms to the state’s child protection system. The lawsuit’s argument rests largely on an amendment to the state constitution passed by voters in 2018 giving taxpayers the right to sue if they believe the state is spending money illegally.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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