A judge from the U.S. Department of Labor rebuked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its concealment of evidence in a case from several years ago against a senior chemist who was wrongfully terminated. The chemist, Cate Jenkins, had worked as an environmental scientist with the agency for 31 years before she lost her job in December 2010. The firing came shortly after she accused the agency of purposefully covering up the toxic nature of dust that permeated the air near the wreckage of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Jenkins eventually got her job back with her full pay and benefits after taking legal action in 2012. Now, Judge Linda Chapman of the Department of Labor ruled that the EPA did indeed conceal evidence that would have cleared Jenkins, and thus the agency had illegally retaliated against her.
According to Judge Chapman, there was no legitimate reason for the EPA to fire Jenkins in the first place. Instead, the agency decided to terminate her as punishment for reporting her findings to the FBI, Congress and the news media. Jenkins’ reports included information on how her division of the EPA had changed corrosivity standards to avoid having to publicize the toxic properties of ground zero dust.
These changes in standards reportedly gave people the false impression that the dust around the World Trade Center was safe, despite it actually being capable of leading to severe respiratory problems and other health conditions to first responders and others who were exposed. The EPA announced that it would decide by March 2016 whether it would alter its corrosivity dust limits.
Whistleblowers have a variety of protections available under federal law. If you have been wrongfully terminated because you reported misconduct, meet with the experienced Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers today.