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U.S. Discrimination Penalty Bill is $1 Billion and Counting: We've Got Their Number

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    by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

    The U.S. would rather pay victims $1 billion in settlements, than root out racism in the federal government. That’s the first of what will be many revelations to ExposeFacts.org, “an electronic alternative for whistleblowers to disclose information important for public safety without exposing themselves to government reprisals.”

     

    U.S. Discrimination Penalty Bill is $1 Billion and Counting: We've Got Their Number

    Part 1

    by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

    Instead of firing abusive and discriminatory managers, the government has preferred to settle discrimination cases—to protect the status quo.”

    Last Wednesday the No FEAR Coalition announced its finding that approximately $1 billion has been spent in the decade since the enactment of the No FEAR Act to settle cases of abuse or to pay court judgments. This revelation came at an Institute for Public Accuracy press conference to announce the launch of its new whistleblower- friendly website ExposeFacts.org. I sit on the ExposeFacts advisory board and was a featured speaker.

    My message was simple: Instead of firing abusive and discriminatory managers, the government has preferred to settle discrimination cases—to protect the status quo. In retrospect I am honored to think that I was the first ever whistleblower to engage ExposeFacts with a new public revelation.

    The ExposeFacts.org site will feature the “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system, that will provide an electronic alternative for whistleblowers to disclose information important for public safety without exposing themselves to government reprisals as so often happens to whistleblowers working within the status quo.

    $1 Billion protecting the status quo is an unconscionable example of governmental fraud, waste and abuse given the range of domestic problems beset by budgetary pressures including run-down schools, veterans denied medical care, dilapidated urban infrastructure and city dwellers suffocating under the burden of cancer causing pollutants. In short, the government considers the $1 billion to be money well spent. Whistleblowers are simply collateral damage—no cost is too great to maintain the structure of fear, retaliation and abuse that allows the federal government to execute its imperial mission with impunity.

    Had Donald Sterling been a manager within the federal government, taxpayers would have paid for his legal defense by government lawyers and his managers would have promoted him.”

    Contrast this with the unfortunate details of disgraced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his universally denounced racist remarks. While it was striking to hear a man whose team was predominantly composed of people of color be so ardent in his insistence to keep blacks out, far more breathtaking was the speed with which the NBA reacted to—and penalized—one of its own. In a matter of weeks Sterling's remarks had cost him his team and brought him a lifetime banishment from the NBA.

    Had Sterling been a manager within the federal government, taxpayers would have paid for his legal defense by government lawyers and his managers would have promoted him. Such is the status quo. Under this system a known racist directing the Office of Civil Rights would not be out of the question.

    The NoFEAR Act (Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation) took effect October 1, 2002. The goal of the No FEAR legislation was intended to make federal agencies more accountable for employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation violations. One strategy NoFEAR used to accomplish this goal was to require agencies to reimburse the Judgment Fund for employment discrimination and whistleblower settlements and judgments paid on their behalf. Unfortunately, No FEAR does not require agencies to reimburse DOJ for attorney fees and associated costs incurred in defending the government in cases covered under the act. Once we receive the financial reports from the DOJ the actual cost to taxpayers of defending corrupt managers will be well in excess of $1 billion.

    Next week in Part 2 I will take a hard look at the numbers we do have.

    Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. It is available through amazon.com and the National Whistleblower Center. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification and Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet. Visit her website at www.marshacoleman-adebayo.com.

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