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Allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers investigated

Employees who communicate legitimate complaints about things they claim are improper at their workplace are supposed to be legally protected from any kind of retaliation. However, sometimes that retaliation is alleged to occur in spite of legal protections, resulting in whistleblower protection cases. One such case is currently being investigated by U.S. Office of the Special Counsel.

The case involves 37 whistleblowers, all at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It includes VA employees in 19 states including California. The OSC declined to identify specific VA facilities within those states that are involved in the case. However, an OSC spokesperson did say that the VA has a particularly high reprisal rate within the federal government. He expressed concern about the volume of retaliation complaints.

According to details released by the OSC, one of the complaints involved an employee making allegations about coding and scheduling procedures at a VA facility. That employee was then allegedly retaliated against with a seven-day suspension, a lower performance evaluation and a reassignment. An accusation similar to that employee's had also been made in March at a Phoenix VA hospital. That widely-publicized allegation was part of a series of complaints in a scandal that included the resignation of the VA secretary a few weeks ago.

Another accusation involved "inappropriate and continuous use of patient restraints" in ways violating VA rules. Still another came from an employee who said they had been reassigned and was facing demotion after saying that patient care funds were mishandled.

This whistleblower protection case, involving facilities in states like California, involved a significant number of employees. Others may involve more or as few as one. In each case, an experienced attorney can help someone who is being retaliated against and explain what rights he or she has as a whistleblower.

Source: NBC News, "Special Counsel Investigates Alleged Retaliation Against 37 VA Whistleblowers" Mike Brunker and Rich Gardella, Jun. 07, 2014

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