In 2010, Paula Pedene helped reveal a scandal in the Phoenix Veterans Affair Hospital revolving around mismanagement that ultimately led to the hospital being $11.4 million short in its budget. Now, it’s being reported that she has been placed in a lower-ranking job as punishment for her role as a whistleblower.
Pedene, 56, had a 20-year career as the Phoenix VA’s chief spokesperson, and has since been forced into isolation with an unimportant basement job after she acted as a whistleblower against her former boss. After blowing the whistle, she claims the VA was quick to retaliate. In 2012, the VA accused her of letting her husband download photos of a local Veterans Day parade on to her office computer, and as punishment lost her BlackBerry, her government email address and her position, being sent to work in the hospital library instead. Shortly thereafter, the library was moved to the basement, and Pedene now works as a receptionist’s assistant.
While most would think this kind of retaliation from the VA is illegal, it is still unfortunately all too common. In another case, a physician at the VA hospital in St. Louis was removed from his position and transferred to a basement office just like Pedene was. Now he works on pensions and paperwork rather than seeing patients, all because he blew the whistle on questionable activities at that facility.
If you are employed by an organization you believe is performing illegal activities, it’s important that you work with an attorney from the outset so you can be sure you are protected from this kind of retribution after you do the right thing and alert the authorities. Companies and organizations should not be able to get away with this kind of retaliation.