April 18, 2016
In recent years, federal employees have become more familiar with their rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act and their ability to file complaints with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Despite this heightened awareness of federal whistleblower protections, many federal employees are unfamiliar with whistleblower protections under other laws. These other provisions, like those under the Occupational Safety & Health Act and Consumer Financial Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), provide for additional protections, procedures, and remedies for federal employees that they may not have elsewhere.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been given the authority to receive complaints under 22 different whistleblower retaliation provisions. Some of these statutes prohibit retaliation against federal employees who make disclosures under a given act. They also provide for administrative remedies that may be different than which can be obtained from the Office of Special Counsel.
The additional protections may duplicate administrative procedures and remedies for federal whistleblowers. Because of this, federal employees often have to choose whether to file a complaint under the Whistleblower Protection Act with the Office of Special Counsel, seek protection under one of the alternatives, or both. In addition, different deadlines apply to the different statutes, and can be quite confusing. For this reason, we encourage federal employees who may have whistleblower claims to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The following websites have additional information about whistleblower protection laws and applicable deadlines:
To discuss your possible whistleblower retaliation case, contact Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris.
September 8, 2015
Students at colleges and universities have the right to live and study in environments free of sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault. Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to prevent federally funded educational institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex. Title IX imposes a legal obligation on colleges and universities to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campus. The United States Supreme Court has held that Title IX contains an implied right of action for a student who has been sexually assaulted by a faculty member or even another student. See Davis v. Monroe Cnty. Bd. Of Educ., 526 U.S. 633 (1999). A student who has suffered sexual assault on school property, including campus housing and dormitories, may have the right to hold the school liable for deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment in school programs and activities. As a result of Title IX, colleges and universities cannot turn a blind eye to allegations of sexual assault but must complete a full investigation into such allegations or face potential liability. Courts across the United States have held schools liable for creating atmospheres pervaded with sexual hostility that resulted in violence. If you are a college student and have been the unfortunate victim of rape, sexual harassment, or sexual assault then you may have a claim against the school for monetary damages. To find out more information about Title IX liability against educational institutions and whether you may have a claim against a college or university, contact an attorney at Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Also, for more information as to how to initiate a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html.
August 31, 2015
KPWH Member Cathy Harris was featured in a report on ABC News program This Week with George Stephanopoulos, speaking about sexual harassment and sex assault on campus. Ms. Harris has focused on the issue of campus sexual harassment for many years. You can view the ABC News story by clicking here.
May 12, 2015
Kerrie Riggs and Cathy Harris of Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC proudly represented Dr. Patricia Kinne, a lesbian psychiatrist at the VA, in her complaints before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the EEOC. The case was recently settled with the help of the Office of Special Counsel, with Dr. Kinne receiving essentially full relief, including compensatory damages and attorneys fees. Dr. Kinne was discriminated against when she was threatened with removal after patients complained that she had disclosed she was a lesbian or referred to her wife. The patients cited Dr. Kinne’s sexual orientation as a basis for discontinuing their treatment with her. VA management at the Louisville VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Kentucky stated that Dr. Kinne’s disclosure of “personal information” was harmful to the doctor-patient relationship and warned she might be terminated. OSC investigated and found that while there were several hundred change-of-provider requests from patients against psychiatrists during the relevant time period, only two requests – the ones related to Dr. Kinne’s sexual orientation– were treated as potential corrective or disciplinary issues. In their OSC interviews, VA management officials were unable to distinguish their treatment of Dr. Kinne’s conduct from others who had received complaints, and provided inconsistent reasoning to support their actions. Dr. Kinne is a well-regarded psychiatrist with no other reported performance or conduct issues, and was complimented by the VA in 2013 for having relatively few patient complaints. The case settled just before an EEOC hearing on Dr. Kinne’s discrimination claims.
August 27, 2014
The EEOC has confirmed the finding of class-wide discrimination against female DEA special agents. The process for individual awards to Class Members has begun, and Claim Forms should be submitted immediately. For more information about the case, please click here.