The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) recently allowed a stay in the termination of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whistleblower, Paul T. Hardy. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) requested the stay on his behalf due to reasonable belief that Mr. Hardy’s recent termination from the FDA constituted a violation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WPA).
According to the OSC, there is substantial evidence that Mr. Hardy’s termination was a direct retaliation for disclosures he made about serious safety issues with a screening device designed to detect breast cancer. The OSC explained that Mr. Hardy’s whistleblowing “raised issues related to exposing the general population to unwarranted radiation exposure and ineffective cancer screening devices.”
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of The National Whistleblowers Center, and one of Mr. Hardy’s attorneys stated the following:
The Office of Special Counsel did the right thing. They stood up and demanded due process for Paul T. Hardy. The FDA’s practice of firing whistleblowers who resist industry pressure to approve hazardous drugs and devices must stop. The OSC’s request to stay these abusive practices is a critical first step in fixing the retaliatory culture that pervades upper management at the FDA. We hope that OSC will continue its investigation into the FDA and order relief for the other whistleblowers who lost their jobs after they exposed substantial and specific dangers to public health and safety.
If Mr. Hardy’s and other recent whistleblower cases associated with the OSC are any indication, Mr. Kohn may have found a good reason for hope in recently appointed Special Counsel, Carolyn Lerner. Since Ms. Lerner was sworn into office in June, her office has asked the MSPB to issue a total of three stays for whistleblowers, including Mr. Hardy. According to the Washington Post, that is three more stays than were won in the three years leading up to Ms. Learners appointment.
In an interview Ms. Lerner stated, “Federal workers should know they are not going to be singled out and punished for doing the right thing.” Ms. Lerner’s whistleblower advocacy is encouraging and will hopefully continue to strengthen the cause of Mr. Hardy and whistleblowers like him.
You can support Mr. Hardy and other FDA whistleblowers by TAKING ACTION an demanding that the FDA and Public Health Service stop retaliating against whistleblowers.
*Trevor Melvin (a NWC intern) contributed to this posting