DOES THE OSC OWE THIS BEDFORD, MA. VA EMPLOYEE AN APOLOGY AND LOTS OF CASH?
Although the Privacy Act was passed over 40 years ago, that doesn’t mean that everyone is following it. For example, the President’s newly appointed Special Counsel issued a press release on January 25, 2018 whining about how the VA did not discipline an employee harshly enough to suit him—and identified the employee by name.
The VA took the information from a whistleblower report assembled by the Office of Special Counsel and imposed the discipline it alone was authorized under law to decide was appropriate. It even referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution, who declined to prosecute given the facts. If the Special Counsel had any formal role in deciding the discipline or prosecution, we assume he would have exercised it. But, lacking any role, he decided to use a government web site to smear the facts about this employee and what she did all over the cyberspace.
He could have omitted her name and just criticized the VA and DOJ for not being as tough and heartless as he would be. Knowing who she is added nothing to the validity of his criticism of those two institutions. All it did was punish the employee yet again by creating a web-eternal public vilification of what she did. It also smeared her father and siblings by name without any proof they did something wrong.
Here’s hoping that some enterprising union (AFGE, NFFE, etc.) and/or lawyer out there decides to do something about this on behalf of the employee (or even the larger class of employees) that involves lots of cash for the damage done these people the Special Counsel skewers by name.
Frankly, we don’t think their names should be made public at all. Years ago, the EEOC decided to use synonyms and code numbers when writing about federal employees and their supervisors who may have violated the law. OSC and MSPB should be doing the same. There is no excuse for MSPB posting on the eternal web for all to see the details of an alleged infraction when it ultimately found the employee innocent. We don’t even agree that an employee found guilty and terminated deserves the additional punishment of publicizing to his colleagues, family, neighbors and labor law geeks like us the salacious and sad details of his personal failing.
Mr. Kerner, we have come to expect this kind of insensitive, unfair, bullying from the You-Know-Who, but we were hoping that you were better than that. Follow the EEOC lead and correct this now.
P.S. Mr. Special Counsel: Is there any particular reason why you have not issued a similarly critical memo of President Trump who has still not disciplined Kellyanne Conway for her three violations of the Hatch Act? Does the President, who gave you your job, get special treatment from OSC?