Published: Jul 08, 2011 9:04 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 08, 2011 8:04 PM EDT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The former services director of Helena's Center for Mental Health has filed a lawsuit claiming the company wrongfully fired her for speaking publicly about the clinic's money woes.

Rhonda Champagne was director of southern services for the center from 2008 until she was fired in March.

She says she was suspended in February for responding to Independent Record inquiries about the center's financial situation, which had been discussed earlier at a meeting with community members.

Champagne says she was fired in March after telling managers she wouldn't take any more clients until staffing was up to state-required levels.

At the time, Center CEO Sydney Blair said Champagne did not consult with administrators before making the decision.

The lawsuit seeks four years of lost wages and punitive damages.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)