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A former high-ranking employee of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) has filed a lawsuit against the agency and its new director, Cheryl Stanton.

FITS is working to obtain the document, which was filed this week in Richland County’s Fifth Judicial Circuit.

According to our sources, the lawsuit is related to an alleged data breach at the agency in which a former SCDEW employee – rumored to be Kerry Paul – illegally downloaded personal data on 4,658 current and former employees of the agency.

“Our security measures detected these downloads and DEW promptly began a full investigation,” Stanton said in a statement. “We don’t know that the information has been further compromised, but out of an abundance of caution we are notifying those employees and individuals impacted so they can take necessary measures to protect themselves, including signing up for the state’s free credit monitoring.”

Sources tipped FITS off to an incident at SCDEW involving Paul last month, but we were unable to independently confirm the report.

According to one source, the data breach SCDEW acknowledged this week “is a hoax” – cover for the lawsuit Paul filed against the agency.

“Nikki (Haley) set up the story to get cover from the lawsuit,” the source says.

Whoa … grab your popcorn, everybody. We’ve got more drama in the Haley cabinet!

Stanton was hired to lead SCDEW in May of last year after the agency became a laughing stock under the leadership of former general Abraham Turner.

UPDATE: Whoa … here’s the pleading.

UPDATE II: Fresh coverage.

UPDATE III: The story expands further …