U.S. Air Force receives Whistleblower Retaliation Report from Special Counsel

This week, the U.S Office of Special Counsel (OSC) presented their report regarding the allegations made by four whistleblowers about retaliation at U.S Port Mortuary in Dover, Delaware’s Air Force Base. The report reviewed events that occurred over a 17 months period in 2009 and 2010. It concluded that three Port Mortuary officials had indeed retaliated against the four whistleblowers, and a recommendation was made by OSC to take disciplinary action against the officials.

The four civilian employees disclosed a variety of ways in which some remains of soldiers’ bodies had been disposed of without proper respect. Thereafter, these employees suffered retaliation ranging from five day suspensions, indefinite administrative leave, and job terminations. Some of the disclosures were the subject of a November 2011 OSC report regarding allegations on the mishandling of remains at the Mortuary. Under the Whistleblower Protection Act the reprisals were illegal.

The investigation conducted by OSC on the whistleblowers’ retaliation claims found the allegations to be true. OSC now seeks corrective action for the whistleblowers and disciplinary action against the officials who imposed the prohibited personnel practices (PPPs). OSC reports that Air Force officials are working with OSC to provide relief to these whistleblowers.

If the Air Force and OSC do not reach agreement, OSC can pursue disciplinary action against civilian employees before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). However, MSPB does not have jurisdiction over active military personnel. One of the officials who engaged in retaliation is active military. OSC cannot pursue a case against him at the MSPB but can instead recommend the Air Force discipline the official.

See Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner speak with CNN’s John King.

Intern Laura Berumen wrote this blog entry.

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