The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) tried to exile two women whistleblowers to unsuitable workspaces before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) stepped in and won relief for the harassed employees.
It was just three months after Chicago-based field administrator Linda Thomas blew the whistle on alleged management abuse and gross waste of taxpayer dollars that agency officials retaliated by ordering her to move to a converted jail cell. But that wasn’t the worst part: Thomas would have to climb staircases surrounded by taunting prison inmates to get there. And she wouldn’t have access to a direct telephone line, computer, desk or scanner in her swanky new workplace. At least in a jail cell, BOP would have to give her a bed.
The OSC intervened just in time and the Bureau canceled the move on the day before Thomas was scheduled to switch. She was allowed to remain in her office and later moved to another facility. Who wouldn’t?
The other case involved Minnesota-based employee Julia Landucci, a BOP drug abuse coordinator who alleged mismanagement and employee misconduct related to the agency’s substance abuse program. Landucci was rewarded for her efforts by being downsized to a new office one-sixth the size of her usual workspace and next to a co-worker against whom she has filed claims of discrimination and workplace violence. Kafkaesque as that was, management officials had even more in store for her: they referred her for a mental health exam, removed her oversight of the drug abuse program and denied her educational reimbursement.
Last month the BOP agreed to postpone Landucci’s move while the OSC continues to investigate her whistleblower retaliation claims. It’s difficult to imagine how the “revenge investigation” could lead to any other conclusion than guilty. And we have a question: was that co-worker accused of workplace violence ever investigated? Seems like a good place to start.