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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINTS AGAINST DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 9/6/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
(202) 653-7984

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced the favorable settlement of whistleblower complaints filed by two drug enforcement agents against the Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The complainants, who remain DEA employees, have asked not to be identified.

    One complainant, a DEA supervisory agent, had sent an anonymous letter to the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) alleging, among other things, that two other supervisors and the agents that they supervised in one of DEA’s foreign offices had misused government funds, and had engaged in other illegal or unethical activities. After the disclosures were made, and after OPR’s investigation began, an inspection by DEA’s Office of International Operations revealed morale problems, and DEA concluded that the office’s supervisors should be changed. It involuntarily reassigned the complainant and the two other supervisors to field offices in the United States. The whistleblower alleged to OSC that his three-year tour in the foreign office was curtailed early in retaliation for his disclosures. OPR’s investigation ultimately substantiated a number of the whistleblower’s allegations. 

    In the other complaint, a DEA agent in the same office alleged that his co-workers perceived him to be the person who made the disclosures that led to the OPR investigation and that, as a result, he was subjected to a hostile work environment. The agent requested to be reassigned out of the hostile work environment to a preferred location. DEA stated that it could not reassign the agent to his preferred location because there were no vacancies and it chose a location unacceptable to the employee. DEA then rejected the agent’s request to rescind his original request for reassignment. 

    OSC investigated the complaints and determined that there existed reasonable grounds to believe that both reassignments violated the Whistleblower Protection Act because they occurred as a result of the OPR investigation that had been sparked by the protected whistleblower disclosures. Accordingly, OSC assisted the complainants in obtaining favorable settlements of their respective complaints.

    The supervisory agent’s complaint was resolved through a mutually acceptable settlement agreement, the terms of which are confidential. In the other case, DEA implemented full corrective action, rescinding the reassignment, restoring the agent’s leave, and paying reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses.

    Adam Gordon, Esq., of Collier Shannon Scott, law firm and lawyer for the two agents, stated, “Both of our clients are very pleased with the great effort and professional manner in which the Office of Special Counsel assisted them through these proceedings. OSC was a dedicated and effective ombudsman.” Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan expressed OSC’s own appreciation over “the manner in which DEA worked with OSC to fairly resolve these complaints.” 

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing. OSC’s investigations frequently result in the favorable settlement of complaints without litigation.

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