Protecting Workers’ Rights

Focusing on the Rights of Federal Employees

Whistlebower Settlement: Continued Signs of Life from the New Special Counsel

Developments at the OSC: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently reached a settlement agreement on behalf of whistleblower Ken Downey, a long-time supervisor with the Blaine (Washington) Sector Communication Center of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  OSC investigations revealed that CBP illegally retaliated against Mr. Downey for making a series of whistleblower disclosures of agency misconduct by proposing to fire Mr. Downey, suspending him, transferring him indefinitely to another border patrol station, issuing him a reprimand, removing his supervisory duties, and failing to promote him despite a favorable recommendation from his supervisor.

Although the terms of the settlement agreement were not published, OSC has revealed that Mr. Downey obtained relief for the retaliation he suffered, as required by OSC's corrective action statute.  In a press release, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner commented that CBP and Mr. Downey have resolved their differences and Mr. Downey will continue his employment "as an integral part of management's team."   Mr. Downey's success in obtaining relief with the help of OSC is a hopeful indication of the protections new Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner will afford government employees.

For information about whistleblower protection, check out Chapter 7 of the Federal Employees Legal Survival Guide, 2d ed.

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