OT: No protection for hazardous waste whistleblowers in RI

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State sues over environmental whistleblower case

By Associated Press, 2/4/2000 18:36

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) The attorney general's office sued three employees at the state Department of Environmental Management this week, arguing that the employees violated the state's immunity when they complained about being harassed.

The office is also suing the U.S. Department of Labor.

The suit stems from a whistleblower complaint from DEM employee, Beverly M. Migliore, who said DEM managers had harassed her for publicly complaining about a lack of enforcement in the agency's hazardous waste program. The Labor Department ordered DEM to pay Migliore $853,000 for the harassment.

The Labor Department later awarded Migliore another $10,000. This time, it was after concluding that DEM Director Jan Reitsma continued to harass her after his agency lost the suit.

Two other employees, Barbara Raddatz and Joan Taylor, formally complained that they were denied promotions because their testimony didn't help the state's case against Migliore. They had testified at a hearing for Migliore's complaints against the DEM.

Now, the attorney general's office wants those cases filed and the fines thrown out.

''The approach is to put a halt to all these proceedings,'' Bob Ballou, chief of staff at the DEM, told The Providence Journal. ''It's just become increasingly apparent that the 11th Amendment protection is directly applicable to the state.''

The U.S. District Court suit argues that the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids individuals to sue states in federal courts.

Jeff Ruch, head of an advocacy group representing the three DEM employees, said the state is basically arguing its employees have no recourse under federal laws.

''The 11th Amendment has become the new last refuge of scoundrels,'' Ruch said. ''The state attorney general is arguing for the right to abuse state workers, to illegally discriminate on the basis of sex as well as speech and to force civil servants to violate their oaths to uphold the law, all without recourse.''



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 05, 2000


Thanks Carl, I think whistleblowers should be protected. Too often a whistleblower is the only way that crooked agencies, management or employees are brought to light for their dirty deeds. Often they are treated as if they were the criminals, not the other way around.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), February 05, 2000.

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