U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE
SETTLEMENT OF WHISTLEBLOWER’S COMPLAINT IN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE CASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 9/17/98
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today
announced the favorable settlement of an action it filed with the Merit
Systems Protection Board on behalf of Ms. Joyce Feilke against the
Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS) under the Whistleblower
Ms. Feilke was hired by DODDS as guidance counselor for
W.T. Sampson High School in Guantanamo Bay Cuba in August 1993. During her
tenure as counselor, Ms. Feilke alleged that the Principal mishandled a
child’s allegation of abuse by failing to report it to the proper
authorities and preventing Ms. Feilke from reporting it. Soon after Ms.
Feilke disclosed the allegations to a Navy Office of Inspector General (OIG)
inspection team and to a DODDS employee relations specialist, DODDS
terminated her employment claiming that there were problems with both her
conduct and performance.
Ms. Feilke filed a complaint with OSC alleging that her
termination violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8), which makes it a prohibited
personnel practice to take, fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to
take a personnel action against an employee for disclosing information which
the employee reasonably believes evidences a violation of law, rule, or
regulation or abuse of authority. OSC conducted an investigation that
uncovered reasonable grounds to believe that the real reason DODDS had
terminated Ms. Feilke was because of her disclosures to the Navy OIG team
and to the DODDS employee relations specialist.
Special Counsel Elaine D. Kaplan expressed OSC’s
satisfaction at what she called “a fair and favorable settlement” of Ms.
Feilke’s claims. “This case,” the Special Counsel observed,
“demonstrates OSC’s commitment to protecting the statutory rights of
whistleblowers and our willingness, in appropriate cases, to pursue
litigation on their behalf.”
The specific terms of the settlement agreement, which
grants Ms. Feilke a cash settlement in exchange for withdrawing her
complaint, are confidential.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel provides an
independent avenue to protect merit systems principles in federal
employment. OSC receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the MSPB,
charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, with
priority given to protecting whistleblowers. In addition, the Office
provides a secure channel for federal employees who possess information
regarding legal violations, gross mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.