Worker fired before testifying in whistleblower protection case

When workers believe that wrongdoing is occurring in their places of employment, many feel the need to bring attention to that wrongdoing. However, these complaints could be considered blowing the whistle, and workers may need whistleblower protection as a result. Unfortunately, some employees may still face backlash for filing complaints.

Oregon readers may be interested in such a case involving workers with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A psychologist in another state indicated that she received a letter of termination from her position at her local VA's health care center a day before she was scheduled to testify regarding the treatment of whistleblowers by the VA. The VA indicated that the woman was facing disciplinary action for violating the code of conduct on a different matter and that her termination was not connected to her testimony.

The congressional hearing resulted after numerous complaints from whistleblowers were made, indicating that the VA has retaliated against them for voicing concerns about the treatment of veterans and the quality of care the veterans receive. The woman believes that her termination letter is retaliation for reporting concerns herself and that it could act as a way to prevent others from coming forward due to fear of such retaliation. Her legal counsel indicated that her letter of termination was issued almost immediately after learning that she would be testifying before Congress.

Bringing attention to wrongdoing in the workplace or simply voicing concerns can often be a stressful experience for workers. They may worry that retaliatory actions will be taken against them, even despite whistleblower protection. Still, Oregon workers in this position may wish to work toward defending their rights by consulting with experienced employment law attorneys about such matters.

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Daemie M. Kim
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