If you think Obama’s war on whistleblowers is getting ugly, take a look at the incredible ugliness visited upon Charles Varnadore during the 1990s. This New York Times obituary tells the story of his struggle to expose nuclear malfeasance at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the sinister retaliation he faced:
His difficulties began in 1990, after he returned to work following colon cancer surgery. He found that his replacement had shortcomings in handling lab samples, and he pointed this out to his superiors. He also complained about his new assignment, operating mechanical arms to handle radioactive materials; he had been blinded in his left eye as a child and had poor depth perception.
“I tried it and made a hell of a mess,” he told The Houston Chronicle in 1993. “I didn’t think it was right for me to make this mess and have other people exposed to it.”
Mr. Varnadore began to receive negative performance evaluations after many years of good ones. He was shunted from assignment to assignment so frequently that he was nicknamed “the technician on roller skates.” In March 1991, he was given a storage room as an office to write reports and keep records of his work as a roving technician. The room contained bags and drums of radioactive waste, as well as bags of asbestos and chemical waste.
Later that month, he appeared on the “CBS Evening News” and expressed his concern about elevated cancer rates among Oak Ridge personnel. In November that year, he filed the first of several whistle-blower complaints to the Labor Department, invoking federal statutes promising immunity.
In February 1992, the department’s wage and hour division ruled in his favor, a judgment that was strongly supported by an administrative judge in June 1993.
“The only conclusion which can be drawn from this record is that they intentionally put him under stress with full knowledge that he was a cancer patient recovering from extensive surgery and lengthy chemotherapy,” the judge, Theodor P. Von Brand, wrote in his decision. “Under the circumstances, he was particularly vulnerable to the workplace stresses to which he was subjected.”
Judge Von Brand sent the matter to the labor secretary, Robert B. Reich, so that damages could be assessed against Martin Marietta. Instead, Mr. Reich dismissed some of Mr. Varnadore’s charges on the ground that they had been filed too late, and he dismissed others because he did not believe that they had been proved conclusively. … Read the rest
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