VA Whistleblower Forced Out of Job After Months of Retaliation

Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower and Army veteran Vanessa Lech says she was retaliated against by her supervisor and driven out of her job for calling attention to safety issues and sexual harassment at a facility in New Mexico.

In October 2014, Lech started off as a social worker in the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program in Albuquerque, N.M., after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Master’s degree in social work.

Trouble started almost immediately when Lech decided to report her supervisor on Nov. 17 for threatening her colleagues and creating a toxic work environment. According to Lech, retaliation kicked in from that very same supervisor the next day and didn’t stop until she was finally forced out of her job.

In December, Lech filed a formal grievance through the American Federation of Government Employees. Lech pointed to retaliation and discriminatory behavior. Her supervisor had threatened her social work license because she was “violating social work ethics” by not spying on other employees. Following Lech’s refusal to cooperate with spying, the supervisor rescinded a promise to allow Lech to have Christmas off, so she could visit her active-duty husband.