NWC's Board of Director member Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo was interviewed by Travis Smiley last night on PBS about her book NO FEAR: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at EPA.
Calling all Philadelphians, this month is your chance to hear an in-person talk with Stephen Kohn, Executive Director at the National Whistleblowers Center. He will be in town to teach a CLE seminar called, "The NEW Corporate Whistleblower Protections and Reward Provisions.”
Join Steve for the seminar on November 29, 2011, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in Philadelphia. Special pricing is available for members of the NWC Attorney Referral Service (ARS) and for whistleblowers.
Space is limited, so reserve a seat at the seminar today.
The seminar curriculum includes a full tutorial on the new whistleblower provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Attorneys will learn how to use Dodd-Frank and other whistleblower laws to effectively represent employees, combat fraud, and qualify for large whistleblower rewards. Whistleblowers will learn how to navigate the complex legal system to receive maximum protection.
Two CLE credits are requested for Pennsylvania. New Jersey and New York have CLE reciprocity. If you would like to request CLE for another state, please contact us.
This week The Washington Times published a lament of Attorney General Eric Holder’s treatment of FBI whistleblowers based on a public complaint from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The article is aptly titled, “Grassley: Whistleblower Cases Stuck ‘in limbo’ Under Holder."
In his letter, Senator Grassley declared that, “perpetual delays for resolving FBI whistleblower cases at the Department of Justice,” led him to the conclusion that, “The process of resolving whistleblower cases appears to be broken.” The Department of Justice refused to comment for the Washington Times article.
To support this point, Senator Grassley used the specific examples of FBI whistleblowers Jane Turner and Robert Kobus. Jane Turner has seen her case stalled for nine years now, while Robert Kobus’ case has been help up for about four.
Jane Turner, a highly decorated 30-year FBI veteran, was fired after reporting that FBI agents had taken “souvenirs” from Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. Five years after she filed her 2002 claim, a civil jury held that she had been illegally retaliated against and was due compensatory funds. Senator Grassley’s complaint stems from the fact that the FBI’s appeal is still bouncing around the Department of Justice to this day. “Any reasonable person would agree that 9 years is extreme and unacceptable,” he concluded.
Robert Kobus blew the whistle on timecard fraud in the FBI’s field office in New York, and in 2007 the Office of Inspector General found that the FBI had illegally retaliated against him for his report. Much like Jane Turner, Kobus has jumped through all of the hoops required for a speedy decision, but Senator Grassley pointed out that, “Mr. Kobus’ case has now languished in bureaucratic red tape for approximately 4 years.”
Attorney General Holder once testified that he would, “ensure that people are given the opportunity to blow the whistle and they will not be retaliated against, and then to hold accountable anybody who would attempt to do that.” Senator Grassley has long been a steady supporter of whistleblowers, and advocates this same view. However, in his letter, the Senator contrasts his true commitment with the Attorney General’s lip service: “Whistleblowers are key to unlocking many of the secrets hidden deep in the closets of the federal government. Allowing a case to sit in limbo for more than nine years shows a lack of commitment to resolving issues for these courageous people.”
The delays that Senator Grassley and The Washington Times have discussed are indeed a major systemic problem. These unnecessary hassles are the icing on the case for brave employees who risk their careers for the public interest.
*Intern Regan Moore contributed to this posting
There has been much debate about whether Coach Mike McQueary is a whistleblower. While the NWC takes no position on the outcome of the investigation, there are two facts that are important to note.
First, McQueary’s initial report as a graduate assistant to his supervisor, Joe Paterno, was a protected disclosure under Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania whistleblower law protects employees who “report” wrongdoing “verbally” to their “superior” or to an “agent of the employer.” McQueary also went beyond just reporting it to his supervisor. He reported what he saw to two high-ranking university officials, including a senior Vice President who had supervisory authority over the campus police.
Second, McQueary’s testimony concerning Gerald Sandusky to the grand jury is protected whistleblower speech. The public interest is served when employees provide truthful testimony about their employer’s misconduct.
In my 28 years of experience representing whistleblowers, I have seen employees sit in court and shield their employers, often conveniently forgetting key facts. This appears to have happened in this case. The grand jury found portions of testimony by two key university officials, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, not credible after they sugar coated and downplayed the abuse that was reported to them by McQueary. According to the grand jury report, Schultz was “very unsure” about what McQueary told him, and he testified that McQueary’s allegations were, “not that serious,” and that there was, “no indication that a crime had occurred.” This type of obfuscation and loss of memory is typical of managers covering up wrongdoing.Continue Reading...
NWC's Jane Turner was interviewed today on MSNBC about the Penn State child abuse scandal and whether Coach Mike McQueary is a whistleblower. Tune in to Honesty Without Fear tomorrow to hear Jane and Steve Kohn discuss this question in more detail, or listen to the archived show after it airs.
You can find out more about Jane Turner and her background at the FBI investigating child abuse here.
Protestors from a wide range of organizations led by Occupy DC, the No FEAR Coalition, the National Whistleblowers Center, net-We.org, Federal Alliance for Workplace Accountability, and others will demonstrate against the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, November 10 at noon.
The demonstration will gather at noon at Freedom Plaza before proceeding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lay wreaths at EPA's door symbolizing: how EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and her Administration continues to pursue and destroy the careers of whistleblowers and victims of discrimination; the illness and deaths from upper respiratory diseases that will occur as a result of President Obama’s decision to delay smog regulations; and solidarity with South African vanadium mine workers.
Led by E.P.A. whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, the protest is directed against the EPA for the agency’s harassment of whistleblowers and victims of discrimination. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo stated, “The Jackson Administration has actively retaliated against whistleblowers and allowed her lawyers and managers to destroy their careers preventing these ‘citizens of conscience’ from protecting the public." In addition, the protestors criticize President Obama for bowing to pressure to postpone changes to the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from smog and other dangerous pollution.
Dr. Coleman-Adabayo discussed the protest event with Dave Colapinto on yesterday's episode of Honesty Without Fear. You can listen to the recorded podcast by clicking here.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, who will be speaking at the demonstration, stated that, "The incestuous relationship between regulators and special interests have fundamentally undermined public safety. In today’s environment fraud is profitable. This must end. We must protect the employees who have the courage to speak up."
Please join us on Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC at 12:00 pm EST on Thursday, November 10th to help us protest the EPA’s treatment of whistleblowers.
Employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will rally today to speak out against retaliation for filing discrimination complaints. In July, the American Federation of Government (AFGE) Employees Council of Prison Locals called on Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States Congress in July to hold Bureau of Prisons (BOP) leadership accountable for failure to make changes to the climate of retaliation and discrimination that’s running rampant in the federal prison system.
“Not only do correctional workers face life threatening situations on a daily basis, but they are facing retaliation from managers” if they complain about retaliation and discrimination by their bosses, said Michael Castelle, Sr., National Fair Practices Coordinator for the AFGE Council of Prison Locals. They also face unsafe correctional officer-to-inmate ratios created by years of agency underfunding. And they face retaliation from managers should they choose to file an EEO complaint in the system. “That’s the one that really stings,” says AFGE, which wants to stop management's “cavalier attitude” toward the well-being of their employees. “A little accountability would be nice.”
The AFGE rally is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. this morning at the Department of Justice headquarters at 9th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W., in Washington, DC. Thank you to Chris Garlock of the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO Council for announcing this rally in today's Union City (and for sharing this photo).