A whistleblower is an employee who reports a workplace violation. Whistleblowers are responsible for making the workplace a safer and more equal environment. However, employees often do not report violations in the workplace because they fear that if they did, their livelihood might be jeopardized based on potential retribution from their employers. To promote workplace safety and to ensure that companies and organizations are not violating the law, federal and state governments enacted various whistleblower protection acts.
Most recently, a presidential Executive Order required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP). This office is designed to ensure the VA is accountable for its policies, procedures, and conduct. VA employees, potential employees, and former employees can report certain violations to this office. The OAWP is required to receive and investigate these disclosures. Furthermore, they ensure the employee does not face any retaliation for their disclosure. Retaliation includes actions taken against the employee based on their complaints such as termination, demotion, or any other adverse employment action.
Typically, the OAWP will investigate allegations regarding violations of rules or laws, fund mismanagement, abuse of authority, and behavior that is dangerous to public health or safety. The OAWP directly reviews claims of misconduct, retaliation, and performance issues that involve certain VA employees. The scope of the investigation is limited to VA employees that are senior executives or those that are in a confidential or policy-making position. The office will investigate supervisory employees if the allegations concern retaliation against an employee.
If a whistleblower has a disclosure outside of the scope listed, an outside agency or a different VA investigative party will handle the matter. An example of a disclosure that another office would handle is if an employee alleged that the VA Medical Center is engaged in negligent patient care or if a Human Resources officer abused their leave. Situations that involve certain crimes or equal employment opportunity discrimination are also outside the scope of the OAWP.
Whistleblowers should take every effort to provide the office with sufficient information. If a whistleblower believes the VA or another government agency is retaliating against them, they should contact an experienced employment attorney.
Has Your Employer Retaliated Against You After You Reported Illegal Behavior?
If you suffered retaliation after reporting illegal behavior, you should contact the dedicated and experienced attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. You may be entitled to recourse. Contact the office at 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation today. You can also contact us online.