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Conditions worsened for VA whistleblowers

If we see something going on that is not right or is possibly illegal, we have the urge to speak out or report it. While it is in our nature to do what we believe is right, taking these steps in the workplace could unfortunately lead to difficult situations. If an employer discovers that you have reports unlawful conduct or procedures in the workplace, this might lead to retaliation such as a demotion or termination. However, such acts are considered illegal and in violation of whistleblower protection laws.

According to reports, employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs claim that they have been experiencing more retaliation in the workplace since January. Since the new administration took office, the experience of VA whistleblowers has worsened. This is despite the passing of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

Even though the President passed an executive order in April as an effort to improve whistleblower protection, claiming that the administration will not tolerate whistleblower retaliation in the Department of Veterans Affairs, retaliation does not only remain active but it is apparently growing.

Back in 2015, a doctor at a VA reported that the requests for medical care by patients were being removed to reduce the number of patients on a wait list. He roughly noted 40,000 deletions. While this reporting brought light to this scandal, the reporting doctor still experiences ongoing retaliation and isolation in the workplace. He and several other whistleblowers experience the same fate, causing fear among future whistleblowers.

While efforts have been made to improve the whistleblowing procedures and protections, it is certainly a difficult position to be in. It is challenging to speak out and report an employer; thus, it is important to understand what the process is and what your experience might be like. Obtaining legal advice will not only keep you well informed but will also help you address any issues such as retaliation.

Source: The Washington Post, "Victims say VA whistleblower retaliation is growing under Trump, despite rhetoric," Joe Davidson, Oct. 30, 2017

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