Newly released information from the Department of Energy has stunned the American public as the organization’s Inspector General found hiring violations at the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). An initial report from the government agency showed that officials at BPA had not only violated federal hiring rules giving veterans preference for certain jobs; they also stifled complaints from whistleblower along the way.
Customers and industry leaders in California’s neighboring state of Oregon were reeling after the agency announced the suspension of two key leaders at the BPA facility. The Energy Department has not yet commented on the move to suspend both a high-level administrator and the BPA’s chief operating officer.
Official reports show that rumblings had been noticed in connection with the agency’s hiring and human resource practices. An anonymous complaint in June 2012 prompted the review of BPA’s hiring practices for veterans, who are supposed to be preferred employees over other members of the general public. Instead of a single incident, it appears that the agency’s decisions to avoid hiring veterans could be a systematic problem, affecting all hiring decisions back to 2010. The initial review showed more than 24 BPA human resources staff members who did not maintain appropriate certification. Further, allegations of widespread incompetence have been plaguing the facility, with regulators finding that the human resources department knew little about federal regulations.
Internal reviews also showed that staff members at BPA were being harassed if they complained to their supervisors about hiring and firing practices. Several key personnel were marked for termination because of their decision to reveal unsavory information about the facility’s poor compliance with federal law.
Scores of whistleblowers are fired every year from their jobs in the private and public sectors because they decided to speak out against injustice. If you feel that you have been a target of such discrimination, consider seeking help from a qualified employment attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal rights, protecting you throughout the entire courtroom process.
www.oregonlive.com, “BPA violated hiring practices, retaliated against whistleblowers, DOE says” Ted Sickinger, Jul. 16, 2013