Federal Whistleblower Act

Austin Texas Whistleblower Lawyer

Feb 23, 2015 — by Jeff Mundy
Tags: Whistleblower Act Environmental Law

For the full story as reported by Matt Tresaugue in The Houston Chronicle, click here for the full story:  http://www.chron.com/news/science-environment/article/Tiny-lizard-at-center-of-big-fight-in-the-oil-6080231.php

Excerpt:

His whistleblower case, meanwhile, progressed, ascending to a trial-like hearing in August 2014 with the Merit Systems Protection Board, or MSPB, the federal agency that oversees such cases.

The odds were against Mowad and his attorney when they arrived for the hearing in at a nondescript South Austin building. While the board is intended to give federal employees an impartial review of their grievances, few whistleblowers win.

An analysis by MSPB Watch, a website trying to raise awareness about whistleblower protection and other federal employment issues, found that the appellant success rate in such cases was less than 4 percent over the last three years. While the hearings are public, most occur out of view in office buildings that are convenient for those involved.

Mowad and his lawyer, Jeff Mundy, were joined in the hearing room by an attorney for the Interior Department, parent of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Administrative judge Mary Ann Garvey, based in Dallas, and some witnesses participated through a video feed.

Mowad, Nicholopoulos, Tuggle and other Fish and Wildlife personnel from Texas and Washington, D.C., testified over two days. The last witness was Laurie Larson-Jackson, the associate inspector general for whistleblower protection at the Interior Department.

In a separate 2013 case, the Inspector General's office concluded that Tuggle and two high-ranking officials - one being Fish and Wildlife director Dan Ashe, an appointee of President Barack Obama - ignored months of "pointed discussions and stern warnings" to discipline two supervisors who retaliated against three biologists who exposed scientific misconduct in Oklahoma. Instead, the supervisors appeared to have received promotions, while the whistleblowers lost pay and saw their jobs changed.

With the Mowad case, Larson-Jackson testified that she asked Tuggle in December 2012 why he didn't explain precisely his reasons and expectations for the detail to a high-ranking service official like Mowad.

When pressed, Tuggle said he had troubles with Mowad's conduct and performance, Larson-Jackson testified. But he had not documented those issues, prompting her to point out that it sounded inconsistent for Tuggle to say his "strongest horse" was a problem.

"I definitely found Dr. Tuggle's story wanting," Larson-Jackson told the judge.

Garvey also appeared to have problems with the story. While the judge questioned Tuggle, it became clear that he did not schedule regular meetings with or require periodic updates from Mowad during his seven weeks on the detail. Also, some of the tasks that Tuggle said he expected to Mowad to do were already done before his arrival.

Two months after the hearing, the government and Mowad settled the case.

 

 

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