Dr. Rick Bright, a former Health and Human Services (HHS) official who claimed he was fired for raising concerns about the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has settled his whistleblower retaliation complaint, according to reporting by the New York Times and others.
In April 2020, Bright was removed from his position as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) within HHS. Bright claims he was removed in retaliation for publicly questioning the use of hydroxychloroquine to combat COVID-19.
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel in early May. The complaint further alleges that HHS retaliated against Bright for urging the U.S. government to dedicate “appropriate resources and expert personnel” to combat the spread of the virus. The complaint stated that “‘political leadership’ in the HHS consistently criticized Bright and his efforts to ‘invest early in vaccine development as well as in critical supplies such as masks, respirators, and swabs,’ which were already in short supply.”
According to Bright’s attorney, HHS and Bright have reached a settlement to compensate Bright. Bright will reportedly “receive back pay, as well as damages to cover the costs of private security and temporary housing that he required after receiving threats,” according to the New York Times. The Times also reports that Bright will receive further compensation for “distress associated with the disparaging comments and threats” made by administration officials,” including then-President Trump.
“I am grateful to have resolved my employment claims so I can focus all of my attention on my lifelong career goal: containing global outbreaks and preventing pandemics to ensure the world never again suffers the consequences we have seen over the past 18 months,” Bright said in a statement, according to CNN.
“The Agency would like to thank Dr. Bright for his dedicated public service and for the contributions he made to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic while he served as BARDA Director. We wish him well in his new endeavors,” said a HHS spokesperson according to CNN.