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Whistleblower Files Suit Against St. Petersburg V.A. Office

Just days after a report was released about the Department of Veterans Affairs St. Petersburg Regional Office, Javier Soto was informed by that office that his services were no longer needed as a Ratings Benefits Services Representative. Mr. Soto filed a whistleblower complaint with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, claiming that he was fired for pointing out problems at the office, which happens to be the nation’s busiest claims processing center for veteran’s benefits.

Whistleblower Lawsuit Claims

Mr. Soto, who is seeking his job back, claimed that he was fired without due process or notice as well as without any investigation into the concerns raised about the office in his reports. His complaint also claimed that the upper management made the decision to fire him without consulting with Mr. Soto’s direct supervisors, taking into account that he had no prior performance or disciplinary issues, or for his citations in his reviews for “following orders and working well with everybody.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Soto also filed a complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority for the same claims, and it is still pending. He also filed a complaint with the federal Office of Special Counsel which closed the case without action but did say that Mr. Soto could take up his case with the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, a person who alleges that a personnel action was taken, or not taken, or threatened, because of whistleblowing may seek corrective action from the board directly if the Special Counsel does not seek corrective action.

Veterans Affairs Report

In Mr. Soto’s complaint, he referred to the studies that he performed on the office. He claimed that there was evidence of violations of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement, and gross waste of funds. He stated in his report that some veterans were not paid enough because their claims were not properly investigated, others were paid too much, and in some cases, personnel illegally altered claims decisions. In addition, inconsistent quality checks exacerbated the issue.

Released after Mr. Soto’s report, a Government Accountability Report shows similar issues throughout the Veterans Affairs benefits system across the United States. According to this report, “The VBA does not always follow generally accepted statistical practices, resulting in imprecise performance information . . . estimates of national and regional accuracy.” In addition, the VBA “reviews about 39%(over 5,000) more claims nationwide than is necessary to achieve its desired precision in reported accuracy rates, thereby diverting limited resources from other important quality assurance activities, such as targeted reviews of error-prone cases.”

Call a Florida Whistleblower Lawyer

Filing a whistleblower case not only keeps businesses honest in their dealings with the government, but it can also protect you against unjust retaliation. If you or someone that you know wishes to bring a whistleblower claim against a business in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, let the experienced lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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