EXCLUSIVE: Memphis VA Initiates Action To Remove Whistleblower With Long History Of Disclosures
The Memphis VA medical center is trying to remove a whistleblower who recently revealed the facility allowed an employee to return to work after serving a 60-day sentence for driving under the influence.
Management at the medical center sent whistleblower Sean Higgins a letter on May 15 in an attempt to remove him from the facility for a third time, according to a document obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. He was fired once in 2008 and regained his job after successfully arguing discrimination. The second attempt came in August 2014, but a Merit Systems Protection Board reversed the VA’s action, giving him his job back. In this second case, managers said Higgins was being hostile.
The proposed removal letter came 10 days after a profile of Higgins in The Commercial Appeal, in which Higgins detailed his past history of whistleblowing at the facility and current status.
In the letter, the VA charged him with disruptive behavior and use of profane language, referencing incidents from back in April and March.
The first case of disruptive behavior alleges that in one instance, Higgins made people uncomfortable when he said they should refer to him as “Mr. Higgins.”
In another example, the proposed removal references comments Higgins made in March while at the Equal Employment Opportunity office at the facility, which includes statements like: “somebody is going to pay” and that he was “tired of them messing with me” and “I am ready to go to jail.”
Higgins told The Daily Caller News Foundation that reports of his language are exaggerated.
According to the article, Higgins has blown the whistle more than 30 times, and as such, he currently reports to a small office with zero duties. Some of his disclosures include paralyzed veterans ignored by staff, long wait times, and manipulated wait lists, in addition to his latest revelation on May 17 that Brittney Lowe, senior interior designer at the facility, was allowed to return right to work after she finished serving a 60-day jail sentence for driving under the influence, which is the third time she’s been convicted of a DUI.
Her seamless return to the Memphis VA has attracted the attention of VA Secretary David Shulkin, who urged the Senate to move quickly on legislation that would empower him to fire bad employees without nearly as much red tape.
Higgins now has until May 30 to respond to the charges in the letter.
The Memphis VA told TheDCNF that privacy laws did not allow it to discuss Higgins’ case.
“The information requested is person-specific and privacy laws prohibit our speaking to any personal, veteran-specific or employee-specific issue,” Willie Logan, spokeswoman for the Memphis VA, told TheDCNF.
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