Delay, deny and hope you die is the government’s strategy to cover up Systemic Racism – and it works!
“Systemic Racism” is present when the people in an organization at every level turn a blind eye to racism when it is presented to them. I would like to share my family’s personal story about Systemic Racism in the U.S. federal government to demonstrate how it is permitted, approved and ignored by elected officials in both major political parties in Washington, D.C.
I was retaliated against by Tom Perez, the current Chair of the Democratic National Committee, for blowing the whistle on racial discrimination that was carried out against eight African Americans in 2015. Perez was previously Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (2009–2013) and United States Secretary of Labor (2013–2017) under former President Obama & Vice President Joe Biden. After my whistleblower retaliation lawsuit was filed, President Trump and his administration have ignored all my requests for help. In response to my whistleblower complaints to the White House, the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Labor & the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board – all former employers of mine – I have been the target of coordinated attacks against my family at our home. They dispatched federal agents on two occasions to interrogate me and intimidate my family. The controversial technique they used each time to circumvent a warrant is called “knock & talk.” They just show up at your home without any prior notice. I recorded both of these encounters and filed official complaints each time with the FBI and Department of Justice, and nobody has followed up with me since.
The first attack happened on December 6, 2017, days after I first published this story. The second attack came in October 2019 in the form of death threat letters, and finally the third attack took place on November 8, 2019 against my family and our businesses in Naples, Florida. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency has taken no action against the Inspectors General involved and has taken affirmative steps to cover up their misconduct.
I contacted all the leaders of both political parties in Congress. My experience with my Congressman in Virginia is described below. After moving to Florida in August 2017, Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have ignored all our documented pleas and phone calls for protection. They have sanctioned the continuous threats to our lives, and the two “knock & talk” interrogations to intimidate my family. The mainstream media, including reporters at the Washington Post and Bloomberg Law have covered up this case from the start because it originated under a Democrat President.
Is that systemic enough for you? If not, please read on… you will be shocked at how systemic racism is permitted, approved and ignored by the bureaucrats inside the federal government.
Below is a summary of my case. All filed court documents and motions and evidence are available upon request that demonstrate the entire federal government’s unwillingness to expose racism at the Labor Department and the attacks they will make against anyone who does.
John Stuart Edwards v. U. S. Department of Labor
docket number DC-1221-16-0227-W-1
“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.”
My name is John Stuart Edwards. I am a retired U.S. Marine Corps Mustang with a humble military and private sector career. My family has had our lives threatened by federal government employees because of what you are about to read and my case is still pending before the courts. As of June 2020, it has been nearly five years since I filed my complaint and was fired – and it is still not resolved.
My objective in writing this story is to create a permanent digital record of the unlawful acts of racism that I was ordered and refused to carry out while employed by the U.S. federal government with the hopes that one day justice will be served.
~ I do hereby give my testimony standing on the shoulders of all the brave whistleblowers who came before me that know firsthand what it’s like to lose everything after doing the right thing.
FACT: I formally blew the whistle on systemic racial discrimination on behalf of eight African American employees that was being carried out by all senior executives and political appointees at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C. and I was retaliated against. My case is still waiting to be heard by the courts.1
The decision by the courts in this case will transform government whistleblowing protections, forever. This case will drive a stake into the heart of Systemic Racism – if I can live long enough to have my day in court. Delay, deny and hope you die is the government’s strategy to cover up Systemic Racism – and it works.
My complaint alleges that I received direct orders from my supervisor Aung Htein to actively discriminate against eight African Americans in the federal government who worked directly for me, and I was retaliated against – fired from my executive job – within days of refusing to execute those unlawful orders. My case proves that the entire system of racial equality at the U.S. Department of Labor is a farce.
THE LEGAL BATTLE DESCRIBED
The legal battle is against the United States Department of Labor whose legal position is that white people who report discrimination carried out by others are not protected from retaliation under federal Whistleblower Protection or Anti-Discrimination laws. 2
Here is the essence of what happened to me:
I said to my boss, “I want to formally object to your order to discriminate against eight African Americans who work for me,” and then he said, “Nope, you cannot report discrimination of any sort because you are a white male and furthermore, as punishment for attempting to blow the whistle against me, you are fired!.”
Indeed, my case is actually quite disturbing.
For anyone who wants to understand what it is like to navigate the bureaucratic maze in order to uphold laws inside our government, this article is for you. If you really want to know just how screwed up our federal government really is, please read on.
“Systemic Racism” means that the people in an organization at every level turn a blind eye to racism when it is presented to them.
MY SYSTEMIC RACISM STORY
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 and his superiors and the entire Civil Rights establishment at the Department of Labor for blowing the whistle to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office. Their collective vengeance against me and my family was swift, coordinated, destructive and has followed us since 2015, and two administrations.
Instead of firing Aung Htein for violating discrimination laws, I was fired for reporting his misconduct to authorities. After my firing, Aung Htein not only continues to be employed, he has been rewarded handsomely with bribes including skyrocketing pay raises, promotions and bonus payments to attend school.
Aung Htein (born 1978) 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 $183,000 per year today. That is a 60 percent pay raise 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 “mysteriously” 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.
That’s right. Aung Htein should have been fired. Instead, he was very generously compensated for keeping his mouth closed.
At the time of first publication for this article, Aung Htein was serving a one year probationary period which means he could have been terminated from the federal government immediately if action was taken to fire him. Unfortunately, his boss Rosemary Lahasky (Trump Appointee) refused to discipline Aung Htein and has protected him from prosecution. Rosemary Lahasky is rumored to be a close associate of the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is also a federal employee and works for her father.
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 a racist, 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 – Lisa Lahrman and Byron Zuidema and setup meetings with them to report his misconduct. 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 worked for (now former) Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA). At the time I resided in the Virginia 7th congressional district.
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. 3
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.
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 was 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. Hugler retired from the federal government after this story was first published.
On advice of my lawyer Peter Broida, I filed a complaint of Prohibited Personnel Practices (whistleblower 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 whistleblower retaliation complaint without any investigation or followup 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.4
NOT MY DEPARTMENT – TRY ANOTHER ONE
It became very clear that no one in the federal government has any interest in protecting African Americans against discrimination or protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.
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 (UPDATE: After being contacted by this writer about his involvement after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Scott Dahl abruptly announced his retirement one week later on on June 3, 2020, with an effective date of June 21, 2020).
Aung 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 after this story was first published despite expectations that he would remain in his new position for several more years.5
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 lacked the maturity, moral courage or experience to fire Aung Htein and put an end to his discriminatory ways after becoming involved in my case.
Rosemary Lahasky may also lack the authority to resolve this matter. I contacted her government funded attorney after moving to Florida in 2017, with an offer to settle this case and get on with my life. 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 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.
After reporting her malfeasance to the White House numerous times, Rosemary Lahasky – instead of being disciplined & fired – was promoted by President Trump to be Special Assistant to President Trump and Director of Domestic Initiatives – Office of Economic Initiatives on April 12, 2019. In her new role, she is rumored to work closely with and be under the protection of the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, working on job training grant programs.
The Whistleblower retaliation component of this case is still awaiting action by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board which has lacked a quorum since President Trump took office in 2017, and my attorney Peter Broida is continuing with that portion of the case on a contingency basis. This precedent setting case will establish whether white people who report discrimination carried out against African Americans are protected from retaliation under federal law. Unfortunately, since the Merit Systems Protection Board lacks a quorum because President Trump and the Republican controlled Senate refuse to fill the vacancies – and no reporter will demand that they answer why, there is a backlog of thousands of cases building and it could be many more years – or even decades – before my case is resolved.
TAXPAYER FUNDED LEGAL DEFENSE FOR RACISTS
News reports have already 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 as Congress but with much larger budgets. Each agency and department of the government has its own secret slush fund to pay lawyers and settlements that they hide 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 Department of Labor, but it is Taxpayers who end up paying the bill. And that is how the system is rigged. Bureaucrats have billions of dollars in their budgets and an unlimited amount of time – in many cases their entire career – to sit at a government desk with a government computer and fight against anyone who stands against them, and they know it.
This is true for every federal agency whether IRS, EPA or any other number of departments in the bureaucratic sphere.
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 served as the Chief of Staff for the former Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta.
Geale was responsible for providing free legal advice, representation and trial services for government executives who break the law. His office is still defending Aung Htein and representing Rosemary Lahasky, who are now working together to cover up discrimination, sexual assault and Whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Labor. All this legal support 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.
Nicholas Geale abruptly departed the government in mid-2019 after a White House investigation into complaints about mistreating staff and misleading Trump administration personnel. The announcement came after a White House Office of Management and Budget investigation into complaints that Geale cultivated a threatening, hostile work environment and misled White House staff about progress on Labor policies.
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 was just like all the others who go to Washington and ignore their constituents. They enter the swamp and become corrupted. Dave Brat lost his reelection bid in a solidly Republican district to a Democrat in 2018, because, like his predecessor Eric Cantor – he got corrupted when he went to Washington D.C.
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 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. The eight African American employees that I stood up for have suffered the most.
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 against your supervisors during your employment there. That is Systemic Racism, and this article has explained how it is defined.
This article was updated on June 15, 2020Capitol Hellway Media Company
A Free Media Company in Naples Florida
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From: Edwards, John S – ETA
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 8:53 AM
To: Zuidema, Byron – ETA <Zuidema.Byron@dol.gov>; Lahrman, Lisa L. – ETA <Lahrman.Lisa.L@dol.gov>; Htein, Aung – ETA <Htein.Aung@dol.gov>
Subject: RE: Update
Lisa and Byron, thank you for scheduling and meeting with me to follow up on this email yesterday. As I stated in the meeting to you both, I feel it is important for me to stay on and support the ongoing EEO investigation resulting from my initial claims so I will stay in my current position as deputy director in OIST until the dust settles on that before considering any other positions.
I look forward implementing WIOA during this next year!
- See Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case number 570-2016-01154X / Agency No. 16-11-021 / and U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, docket number DC-1221-16-0227-W-1 / John Stuart Edwards v. U. S. Department of Labor for case documents and material evidence to substantiate all allegations against named individuals in this article.
- One year after this complaint was filed; Mr. McDaniel stated in an email that he was unceremoniously promoted to the GS-14 grade as a result of this complaint and he thanked me for standing up for his rights.
- See U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, docket number DC-1221-16-0227-W-1 / John S. Edwards v. Department of Labor / for case documents and material evidence to substantiate all allegations against named individuals in this article.
- See Department of Labor Agency Case Number CRC 16-11-021 dated May 8, 2018 FINAL AGENCY DECISION page 8 paragraph 2, page 9 paragraph 3, and page 11 paragraph 2, for contradictory testimony (lies) from Lisa Lahrman & Aung Htein about the reason that I was removed. AA (Lahrman) attested Complainant did not inform her at any time that he no longer wanted to leave OIST-ETA until her meeting with him on October 27, 2015 (see footnote 1). Director1 (Htein) testified he became aware of Complainant openly opposing discrimination on October 30, 2015 and that he did not become aware of the EEO complaint until February 15, 2016. DAS (Zuidema) testified, on October 10, 2015, Complainant sent an email to him, AA (Lahrman), and Director1 (Htein) stating, “I will stay in my current position.” (Tab Affidavit D, p5). DAS testified that he did not know if the October 10, 2015, email was considered prior to reassigning Complainant. Also see multiple emails – i.e. Footnote 1 – that prove that the removal was retaliatory and Director1 (Htein) lied in his testimony about the dates he knew about the EEO complaint.
- Update – Molly E. Conway, Phone (202) 693-2772 was appointed Acting Assistant Secretary in 2018.