“I swear before God that I personally witnessed eight highly competent African American federal employees be denied promotions and assignments that would enhance their careers. I was ordered to remain silent while a black woman was treated like a wild animal and herded into subservient jobs for many years because of the color of her skin.”
John Stuart Edwards v.
R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary, U. S. Department of Labor
U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, docket number DC-1221-16-0227-W-1
EEOC docket number 570-2016-01154X / Agency No. 16-11-021
WAKE UP AND BE HEARD
I am a White man and retired U.S. Marine Corps officer with a distinguished military, public service and private sector career spanning many decades (see my biography). I blew the whistle on racial discrimination against African Americans in the federal government, and I was retaliated against because I reported violations of federal law.
Now, I am fighting a legal battle against the United States Secretary of Labor because he believes that White people who report discrimination against African Americans are not protected from retaliation under federal Whistleblower Protection or Anti-Discrimination laws.
My case is actually quite disturbing. After more than two years of navigating the bureaucratic maze of many federal government agencies to defend the civil rights of my former employees, I have spent nearly $20,000 of my own money for lawyers to fight the Secretary of Labor. The fiscal year 2018 budget request from President Trump for the Department of Labor was $9.7 billion in discretionary authority, with additional mandatory funding, and 15,924 full-time employees. On my side, it is just me and my wife and our two cats. I have no job, and I have reached the limits of what I am willing to spend for this fight. My lawyer tells me, and I agree that this is a precedent setting case that must be won because it impacts the rights of citizens who report discrimination and sexual harassment that they witness against others.
I am publishing my story now with hope and faith in God that there are human beings in this country who can help me continue this fight. If White people cannot report racial discrimination against African Americans and be protected under the law from retaliation by the federal government, then freedom is lost. People of all races must be allowed to fight together for the civil rights of all our citizens, not just ourselves. United we must stand, divided we will fall.
REWARDED FOR RACISM
In 2015, I worked at the U.S. Department of Labor for Aung Htein, a Burmese immigrant, who systemically carried out racial discrimination for many years against African Americans; and I was retaliated against by Aung Htein for blowing the whistle to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office. According to recent news reports, “Burmese soldiers, police and militias have been accused of razing hundreds of villages, gang-raping women and children and killing indiscriminately, in what the U.S. has labelled a campaign of ethnic cleansing,” so it is not difficult for any reasonable person to understand why someone with Aung Htein’s cultural heritage and disposition would discriminate against other races in the most cruel and unusual way.
Aung Htein (age 39) is a career federal government bureaucrat whose taxpayer funded salary has skyrocketed despite continuous freezes on federal government pay. Mr. Htein’s government salary has somehow miraculously grown from $115,000 in 2011, to over $160,000 per year now. That is a 40 percent pay raise in five years at a time when there was supposed to be no federal pay increases at all. But it gets even worse.
In early 2017, Aung Htein was non-competitively promoted into the high paying ranks of the Senior Executive Service in the federal government – despite racial discrimination and retaliation complaints made against him that are still pending before the courts.
Aung Htein is currently serving a one year probationary period which means he can be terminated from the federal government immediately if action is taken to fire him now.
RACISM AND WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION – PART ONE
I was Deputy Director and supervised fifty federal employees and over one hundred contractors at the Department of Labor technology office. My supervisor, Aung Htein, came into my office on September 1, 2015, and told me, “to stop making noise,” about the racial discrimination that he ordered me to carry out. Aung Htein told me that his bosses had promised him, “big pay raises and a promotion to the Senior Executive Service,” at the U.S. Department of Labor for discriminating against African Americans. I thought to myself at the time that this guy is clearly an idiot, and I told Aung Htein that, “I will not participate in the discrimination of African American employees.” After he left my office, I immediately notified his bosses and setup meetings with them to report his conduct. I was disappointed to learn how deeply they were involved.
After I exhausted my chain of command reporting the discrimination, Aung Htein took affirmative steps on September 15, 2015, to strip me of my supervisory responsibilities, remove my decision making authority and diminish my reputation. He announced to the entire office that I was no longer in charge of personnel decisions and that any complaints would need to be brought to him directly. This action made it clear to everyone in the office that if you fight for the rights of others, you will be humiliated and destroyed.
Just like we have seen recently in the news with victims of sexual assault, African Americans were discriminated against and afraid to come forward on their own. These Americans feared retaliation and they were right. I thought I could make a difference for them because I am White.
Looking back, I can understand now why these wonderful people refused to come forward on their own. Racists and sexual predators. The system allows them to behave and retaliate the same way. They have unlimited resources provided to them by large organizations, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman or black or white. If you stand up against power, if you make a complaint, everyone knows you will be destroyed. That is why people who witness discrimination and sexual harassment don’t file complaints.
After the first retaliatory attack by Aung Htein and the lack of interest by his bosses to do anything about it, I filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office and emailed copies of my complaint to Zachary Williams and Lisa Kyle who work for Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA).
In my September 2015 EEO complaint, I wrote:
Allegations: Systemic discrimination against eight African American employees and retaliation for blowing the whistle to the entire Department of Labor leadership including the Inspector General.
Charge 1: Aung Htein and senior executives engaged in, and condoned racial discrimination to deny opportunities and career advancement for eight African American employees in the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Information Systems and Technology. The following employees are current active targets of systemic discrimination by senior management officials that have or will directly impact the careers and earnings of these employees:
GS13 – Mr. McDaniel, an African American federal employee is being discriminated against because he is being denied a merit promotion solely due to his race. Mr. McDaniel applied for an advertised GS14 position to perform the work he is already performing at that level – and when Mr. McDaniel was found to be the only eligible qualified candidate and placed on the hiring certificate for the hiring official – Aung Htein placed an indefinite delay on hiring Mr. McDaniel for the position but has allowed the hiring of other vacant positions in the office, despite strong recommendations from the hiring officials including Mr. McDaniel’s supervisor Thomas Flagg (also African American), the reviewing officer, and the Deputy Director. At the time of the complaint, there was no indication whatsoever that Mr. McDaniel will ever have the opportunity to fill the position for which he is qualified. Mr. McDaniel stated that he feared retaliation if he filed an EEO complaint.
GS13 – Mr. Liddell, an African American federal employee is actively being targeted by Aung Htein for removal from federal service despite the fact that Mr. Liddell is performing his work in a highly successful manner. This fact was corroborated by the senior GS15 technologists he supports, and his reviewing officer. Mr. Liddell’s wife has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Mr. Liddell has requested occasional time off to transport his wife to treatments. Mr. Htein stated that he considers these types of requests to be unsatisfactory and inappropriate. Mr. Liddell’s supervisor, Freddie Sconce, stated in writing that he is acting to remove Mr. Liddell from federal employment based on his race on the orders provided to him by Aung Htein. Sconce stated that he disagreed with Mr. Htein’s decision, but will carry out the orders despite his personal objections. Sconce, who was a GS-14, has applied for a GS-15 promotion and Aung Htein is now the deciding official for that promotion after the revocation of my personnel decision authority by Aung Htein on September 15, 2015.
In addition to the above active targets of discrimination, I uncovered a clear pattern of ongoing systemic discrimination that has been carried out for many years against only African Americans that were contained in my formal complaint and court documents. The following employees were also discriminated against and in some cases maliciously targeted and abused.1
- Ms. Marlene Howze
- Ms. Florence Davidson
- Mr. Thomas Flagg
- Mr. Kevin Jackson
- Mr. Dwayne Palmer
- Mr. Nat Brown
Charge 2: Aung Htein retaliated against me on September 15, 2015, when he removed my authority to manage personnel for reporting systemic discrimination to his superiors at the U.S. Department of Labor.
I would never kneel during the National Anthem, instead I am shouting at the top of my lungs,
“I witnessed racism and reported it!
Does anyone in this country care anymore?”
WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION – PART TWO
After a month passed, I became frustrated with a lack of response from EEO and the indifference by senior Department of Labor leaders concerning my complaints, so on October 13, 2015, I met with Vanessa Hall who is an EEO specialist and asked her advice about what I should do.
Ms. Hall said, “I have never seen or heard of a White executive coming forward to report racial discrimination against black people in my entire life. My experience is that they are going to keep coming after you if you keep complaining about what they have done [referring to Aung Htein, the Inspector General and Assistant Secretary of Labor]. You should probably just try to find another job.”
Two weeks after meeting with Ms. Hall, I received an email permanently reassigning me to a non-supervisory Special Assistant position effective immediately. The new job was a made-up position that had never before existed, and it was not remotely commensurate with my senior management and supervisory experience and skills. The entire leadership of the Labor department was notified about the circumstances surrounding my reassignment, including the Inspector General and Zachary Williams who works for Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA). None of them lifted a finger to help me then, or any time since.
A few days later, on November 5, 2015, my former Deputy Director position was advertised on the USAJOBS website as a vacant position to be filled.
After the reassignment and posting of my position, there was nothing for me to do but pay lawyers and fill out paperwork while I sat at home performing a bullshit job. In mid-November 2015, acting on the advice of my lawyer, I filed complaints with the Civil Rights Center and the Office of Special Counsel at the Department of Justice.
I made formal written complaints about discrimination against African American employees to Betty Lopez and Naomi Barry-Perez who run the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and Civil Rights Center at the Department of Labor. Betty Lopez admittedly reported my confidential EEO complaint to Edward Charles “Ed” Hugler who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary at Labor. She also informed the entire Department of Labor executive team that I had filed a complaint about their discrimination and did nothing when I was retaliated against for making it.
I also filed a complaint of Prohibited Personnel Practices (whistleblowing reprisal) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) at the Justice Department, alleging that my reassignment to Special Assistant and the Labor department’s decision to post my former position for hire, are retaliation for whistleblowing and for engaging in protected activities under 5 U.S.C 2302. The OSC closed my whistleblowing retaliation complaint on November 20, 2015, declining to seek corrective action on my behalf. Instead, they provided me with a right-to-file letter that day which stated that I needed to take my complaint instead to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Ka-Ching-Ka-Ching! Whistleblowers have to pay for all their legal representation while Aung Htein and his bosses are provided unlimited funding for government attorneys paid for entirely with taxpayer dollars. That is how the current system works. At the time of publication for this story, I have already spent approximately $20,000 on this case – and it is far from over. Delay, deny, hope you die is the government’s strategy to fight whistleblowing, and it works.
BUT WAIT, IT GETS WORSE
Several months after I was removed from the position and replaced, there were several Inspector General complaints filed that allege Mr. Htein violated multiple sections of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, performed illegal acquisitions costing taxpayers millions of dollars, and accepted bribes and kick-backs from senior government officials in the form of personal training money totaling more than twenty thousand dollars in exchange for keeping his mouth shut about racism, corruption and whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Labor. Complaints were also made to the Inspector General about Aung Htein’s pay raises and the promise he received about being promoted.
The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor is Mr. Scott Dahl who was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 16, 2013. Dahl, who was appointed by President Obama, turned a blind eye to the discrimination and criminal complaints made against Aung Htein and other senior executives since he joined the agency. Dahl was part of the cadre of government executives at Labor who were involved in my reassignment and who have allowed Aung Htein to keep his job at the Department of Labor despite racism and criminal complaints.
Htein actively denied African Americans promotions and assignments that would enhance their careers. Htein used investigative services of the agency to target one African American woman, and he has been shielded from accountability by the Inspector General and government lawyers who are paid for by taxpayers to provide him with a free legal defense. Htein has received substantial pay raises, and even been promoted to the highest ranks of the federal civil service.
HELLO? IS ANYONE IN CHARGE?
Aung Htein’s supervisor was Byron Zuidema, who was promoted to be the acting assistant secretary by President Trump. Zuidema abruptly resigned from the federal government recently despite expectations that he would remain in his new position for several more years.
Rosemary Lahasky is another President Trump political appointee who is currently serving as the top White House official for the agency where Aung Htein works. Lahasky has experience working inside Washington D.C. as a congressional staffer but may lack the courage to fire Aung Htein and put an end to his discriminatory ways.
According to the Department of Labor website, Lahasky is now the only person in charge of the Employment and Training Administration after Zuidema departed.Rosemary Lahasky may also lack the authority to resolve this matter. I contacted her government funded attorney recently with an offer to settle because I can no longer afford to fund my case. My offer stated, “Since I am retired now and so much time has already passed since my complaint was made, I am willing to consider agency demands for withdrawal of both cases – EEOC and MSBP – in exchange for reimbursement of my legal fees.”
Here is the response I received to my very reasonable settlement offer. Rolando Valdez is the taxpayer funded full time government attorney who represents Lahasky and Htein. He works for the Department of Labor Solicitor.
Rosemary Lahasky was provided this story and offered no comment. Capitol Hellway Media Company LLC confirmed receipt by Ms. Lahasky of this article and our request for comment under the Freedom of Information Act – tracking number 847979.
As a result of Lahasky’s continued unwillingness to resolve my case, I now have until March 2018, to decide whether I want to continue with the EEOC case to aid African American employees who were discriminated against by Aung Htein.
The Whistleblower retaliation component of this case is still awaiting action by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, and my attorney is continuing with that case on a contingency basis. That precedent setting case will establish whether White people who report discrimination against African Americans are protected from retaliation under federal law. Unfortunately, since the Merit Systems Protection Board lacks a quorum because President Trump has not filled the positions, there is a backlog of appeals building and it could be many years before my case is resolved. It costs me nothing to wait for that decision.
TAXPAYER FUNDED LEGAL DEFENSE FOR RACISTS
Recent news reports revealed that Congress secretly paid out settlements of over $17 million for discrimination, sexual assault and other cases brought against Members of Congress. What Americans don’t know is that every department in the federal government operates exactly the same way. They have a secret slush fund to pay lawyers and settlements that they keep from public view. Here is the reason why we know so little about that money.
The perpetrators of racial discrimination and retaliation at the Department of Labor know they cannot be sued as individuals because they have immunity, so the agency gets sued. In my case, I’m suing the Secretary of Labor, but it is the Department of Labor – The Taxpayers – who pay. That is how the system is rigged. They have billions of dollars in their budget and an unlimited amount of time to fight against anyone who stands against them, and they know it.
And the Department of Labor is no different. Aung Htein and Rosemary Lahasky don’t care about lawsuits against the agency because taxpayers fully fund a large federal legal department to protect them. The Department of Labor is packed with government lawyers, like Rolando Valdez, that are funded by taxpayers to defend the people who discriminate against African Americans and retaliate against Whistleblowers. The entire system is upside down.
Nicholas C. Geale, was appointed Acting Solicitor of Labor by President Trump on February 17, 2017, and also serves as the Chief of Staff for the current Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta.
Geale is also responsible for providing free legal advice, representation and trial services for government executives who break the law. His office is defending Htein and representing Lahasky, who are now probably working together to cover up discrimination, sexual assault and Whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Labor. All this is provided at taxpayer expense. And Geale and Rolando Valdez have a much larger budget to work with than anyone who makes a complaint against the agency. Delay, deny, hope you die is the motto there. The swamp is corrupt.
CONGRESS IS USELESS
In 2015, I lived in the Virginia 7th congressional district. According to federal law, Whistleblowers who report retaliation to Congress are supposed to be protected. I have dozens of communications back and forth with Congressman Dave Brat’s office spanning more than ten months, and he did not lift a finger to help.
In January 2016, I was becoming frustrated by the lack of interest in my case by Congressman Dave Brat’s staff.
Every month in 2016, I contacted Congressman Brat’s office and kept getting the same response, “As soon as we receive a reply, we will update you.” Month after month after month passed by, and nothing was being done. In August 2016, I was so frustrated that I sent Congressman Brat this email and never got a response or call from his office again. I guess he was offended.
It was a big mistake for me to think that anyone in Congress would do the right thing. Dave Brat is just like all the others who go to Washington. They enter the swamp and become corrupted. I see him on TV a lot now, he really knows how to play the game. I’m glad I don’t live in his district now.
FIRE AUNG HTEIN!
Clearly the most important qualification for promotion into the federal government’s Senior Executive Service at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. is to discriminate against African Americans and retaliate against any federal employee or contractor who blows the whistle on illegal activity there.
I am not a bleeding heart liberal by any stretch of the imagination. I think that President Obama and Colin Kaepernick have done more to damage race relations in the United States than Jim Crow. But I experienced a horrible tragedy and injustice when I reported the discrimination of African American employees at the Department of Labor, and was retaliated against for opening my mouth.
If you are an African American who worked at the U.S. Labor department since it was founded on March 4, 1913, chances are you were discriminated against or feared retaliation if you filed a complaint during your employment there.
If you want to make a difference, please share this story on social media and with everyone you know.
If you are an attorney or philanthropist or employee and want to join a civil or class action lawsuit against the racist executives at the Labor department, please contact me immediately to discuss.
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Proof that Shit Floats to the Top
Tom Perez and Portia Wu Escape Prosecution For Racism and Whistleblower Retaliation
We Need To Reverse the Blacklisting Rule
Workers Just Got Screwed
If we work together, we can defeat these government parasites, help President Trump drain the Washington swamp and
Make America Great Again!
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