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Special Counsel: Interior Dept. whistleblower wrongfully fired

Six years ago, a Department of the Interior employee reported to his supervisors that the federal department had violated the National Environmental Policy Act in order to make it easier for Arctic Ocean oil exploration. When Jeffrey Missal's supervisors showed little interest, he reported the infraction to the department's Inspector General.

Two years later, Missal was informed that his supervisors had launched an investigation into unspecified misconduct he had allegedly committed. On that very same day, the Alaska-based Environmental Officer was also told that the IG was investigating Missal as well.

In 2016, he was fired because of the alleged misconduct. When he complained to the Office of the Special Counsel, his firing was stayed. (Note: the Special Counsel is Henry Kerner, not to be confused with Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.)

Late last year, the OSC determined that the department's investigations had been launched in retaliation for Missal's initial whistleblowing.

"Whistleblowers must have confidence they can report wrongdoing without facing retaliation," Kerner said in a statement. "OSC is committed to restoring that confidence by holding agencies accountable when they violate whistleblowers' rights."

Missal's attorney said the Interior Department has ignored the "the Whistleblower Protection Act's enforcement institutions." Even after Missal was returned to work, the lawyer said, the department "continued to violate many of the details of MSPB stay orders by continuing to isolate him and intentionally restricting his normal duties."

If you know of fraud against the federal government, but are wary of retaliation, speak with a Milwaukee employment law attorney experienced in protecting whistleblowers. Contact the law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c. for more information.

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