The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been the subject of controversy for much of the past year after a variety of whistleblowers exposed a nationwide problem of extremely long wait times for veterans needing treatment and benefits. Unfortunately, many of those VA whistleblowers suffered retaliation by management after exposing the problems within the agency.
A new bill proposed by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), who also serves as chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC), would offer new, additional protections for VA whistleblowers. The Veterans Affairs Retaliation Prevention Act has specific penalties for supervisors who decide to seek revenge against employees who reported agency misconduct. Under the bill, retaliators would be subject to a minimum 14-day suspension for a first offense and dismissal for a second. The bill would also make it easier for whistleblowers to request to be transferred to a different location.
Finally, to help prevent cover-ups, a provision of the bill would hold supervisors responsible for notifying whistleblowers of all actions the agency is taking to address their concerns.
The VA has issued a statement in response to the proposed legislation to say it believes the whistleblower protections already in place have been effective. The agency says it is working with the Office of Special Counsel to ensure all employees and the department as a whole are appropriately benefitting from protections now in place.
The bill has received subcommittee approval, but will also receive an analysis from the entire HVAC. It is still relatively far off before the bill would be put to a full vote, but the protections it would offer to VA whistleblowers are promising.
To learn more about how to take action against an organization that has engaged in wrongdoing, contact the trusted Dallas lawyers at Whistleblower Law for Managers.