Former VA Official Offers Details on Illegal Removal of Phoenix Whistleblower

A former official from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Phoenix recently signed a sworn affidavit in which she testifies about some serious retaliations made against a whistleblower at the Phoenix VA.

That official, Laurie Butler, said she was a part of a meeting with Glen Grippen, the director of the Phoenix VA health care system in January, a day after a whistleblower made national news for revealing incidents of employees improperly dealing with suicidal veterans and illegally accessing and tempering with medical records. During the meeting, officials discussed how they could respond to the allegations. Butler says Grippen brought up the possibility of firing the whistleblower, Brandon Coleman, or finding a way to place him on administrative leave.

Discussions of illegal termination

According to Butler, VA Regional Counsel Staff Attorney Shelley Cutts then said Coleman could not be fired or removed from his position for speaking to the press because of whistleblower protection laws. However, she did say Coleman could be fired for unrelated misconduct. Butler, meanwhile, was not convinced of the validity of the two potential examples of misconduct brought up.

The next month, Butler took sick leave and decided to apply for disability retirement. Several months afterward, she found out Coleman was put on administrative leave, where he remains to this day. Butler’s testimony provides new insight into the VA scandal and the retaliation whistleblowers still face. Such retaliation is illegal under federal law.

If you could use further guidance on retaliation issues, speak with skilled Dallas attorney Steve Kardell at Whistleblower Law for Managers.