We Represent Clients Against Employer Retaliation
Federal whistleblowers who call attention to the mismanagement of national programs and waste of taxpayer resources do our nation a great service. The higher-ups overseeing government agencies may, whether purposefully or through negligence, contribute to unfair treatment of our citizens. Our federal government is here to provide support for those who need it, not to contribute to their suffering. We rely on patriotic advocates to bring these abuses to light, and at Pines Federal , our team is dedicated to helping them fight back against employer retaliation.
Know Your Rights: Federal Whistleblower Protections
Any government employee who discloses “illegality, waste, and corruption” within administration operations must not face retaliation, as laid out by the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. In 2002, the No FEAR Act was passed to discipline individuals who retaliated against whistleblowers or illegally discriminated against any worker. Unfortunately, problems continued to rein across agencies. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, signed in 2017, created the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) to investigate or refer reports of wrongdoing, monitor changes advised by oversight organizations, and intercede in issues of retaliation in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Is this latest anti-corruption initiative living up to its promises?
Whistleblower Safety Depends on Enforcement
The OAWP was created with good intentions in mind, but in practice, the office has let down whistleblowers by botching investigations and failing to keep whistleblowers anonymous when forwarding complaints to their managers or offices. Though the OAWP has undergone leadership changes and vowed to fix these problems, the agency’s troubled past may cast doubt on their ability to protect the officials who count on them to handle complaints in a fair and discreet manner. Additionally, some federal employees who used OAWP to report issues faced unfair consequences.
The OAWP Isn’t Doing Its Job
Many brave individuals came forward with documentation of the very transgressions the OWAP was created to protect but saw no change in workplace operations. Such issues include:
- Disregard for rules or regulations
- Misspent funds
- Poor treatment of employees
- Potential for widespread harm
The OAWP was tasked with investigating reports on the above or referring them to another agency, depending on the scope of the allegations. Its employees were also supposed to personally monitor reports of retaliation after a complaint. However, under their watch, investigative resources have often gone toward tracking whistleblowers rather than looking into the issues they brought forward.
What Retaliation Looks Like
When whistleblowers face consequences for documenting wrongdoings, it’s not always in the form of a firing notice, and their part in bringing certain concerns to light likely isn’t mentioned at all. That doesn’t mean disciplinary actions aren’t related to the fact that an employee has blown the whistle. Most managers likely know enough to understand that mentioning the complaint as a cause of this action would be overtly illegal. Instead, they find other ways to retaliate. Examples from the OAWP include the following.
- A VA executive was investigated five times and threatened with suspension and firing over made-up problems
- OAWP employees have been excluded from meetings and asked to resubmit resumes despite already holding a position with the agency
- A former doctor faced a hostile environment at work after reporting an issue to her supervisor, and was forced to resign
- A technician received a verbal reprimand and was reassigned multiple times
- An engineer was stripped of his duties and relocated to a different office
- A physician was removed from the care network and given administrative work
If you have faced negative changes in your work environment or job duties after blowing the whistle, you may be facing employer retaliation. You have the right to legal recourse against anyone who attempts to punish you for bringing your concerns to light.
We Help You Fight Employer Retaliation
Our team at Pines Federal , cares about supporting veterans—and about protecting the brave employees who come forward to report mismanagement in the VA and beyond. If you’ve made a report within your office or to the OAWP and suspect retaliation, you are not alone. Come share your story with our legal team.
With over 20 years of trying federal employment law cases, our reputation has spread nationwide. From our offices in Houston, Atlanta, and Baltimore we are ready to serve you, no matter where you are in America. VA mismanagement has harmed too many veterans, and often the leaders behind these problems punish the employees who speak up for our vets. We’re fighting to help anyone targeted with disciplinary actions after they made an official complaint.