WASHINGTON, July 11, 2015 – Someone at the Veterans Administration appears to have placed a bogus restraining order into Sean Higgins file during the investigation into his termination.
Sean Higgins is the thrice terminated Memphis VA employee and whistleblower whose most recent dismissal came last month; Higgins has gotten his job back both previous times.
Now, CDN has learned that a false restraining order was put into his investigative file. The full file was shared with CDN by Higgins and his attorney Joree Browlow.
In the file is a restraining order against Higgins purportedly filed with Shelby County, Tennessee, where Memphis is located, with the file number 17800782, but when Brownlow said she pulled that file number with the county a whole separate case came up. CDN has seen a copy of this other file and it is an entirely different case.
As CDN documented, Sean Higgins- a whistleblower- was terminated on the day the landmark whistleblower protection bill for the VA was signed in June.
Higgins was purportedly terminated for a pattern of disruptive behavior, though he and other VA whistleblowers agreeing that this was standard whistleblower retaliation.
He has the support of Brandon Coleman, a whistleblower from Phoenix, Germaine Clarno a whistleblower from the Hines VA, James DeNofrio of the Altoona VA, and others.
After this allegation (the bogus restraining order) was first broadcast by the local Fox affiliate in Memphis, the Chief Negotiator for the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), of which Higgins is a member, fired off this email to the VA Secretary, David Shulkin.
“Will someone investigate this report, to see if the Leadership at Memphis VAMC really falsified these documents.
“Will the accountability law hold the guilty Department officials accountable at Memphis, as it does not seem like it is, as the guilty officials who approved the leave for the employee who used leave for 3 DUI convictions and changed the actions after the truth leaked out, are still employed and the employee with the jail time is still employed and is now driving to work?”
Besides the Higgins case, Bailey is referring to Brittney Lowe, who was convicted of three DUI’s, served sixty days in prison, and still kept her job at the Memphis VA; Shulkin repeatedly referred to Lowe’s case in the run-up to the vote on the bill for whistleblower protection.
An email to Secretary Shulkin by CDN was left unreturned.
Willie Logan, the public affairs officer for the Memphis VA, was unavailable; an email to Sandra Glover, public affairs officer for Veteran Integrated Services Network 9, the region which includes the Memphis VA, was left unreturned.
An email to David Dunning, the medical director of the Memphis VA, requesting an interview was left unreturned.
Brownlow told CDN she has also discovered that a VA lawyer, Bradley Flippin, who Brownlow accused of improper discovery.
“I am concerned that Mr. Flippin is biased and out to reprise against Mr. Higgins and determined to terminate him and not settle any matter Mr. Flippin has continued to persecute Mr. Higgins and I am finding more and more evidence of this. Attached is the MSPB decision in his 2014 termination, the Judge gave Mr. Flippin the option to settle rather than get such a negative decision. he refused.”
Brownlow stated in June 2017 email, to Bailey and Dunning, “and As I prepare for the next hearing representing Mr. Higgins against Mr. Flippin, I discovered the following.
“In the discovery, I specifically requested the AIB that cleared Mr. Higgins from creating a hostile work environment. (attachment 1) and he stated no report was ever issued in the discovery response, on May 21, 2015. Now in the next case, Flippin furnished me with an Administrative Investigation Board Report (dated June 23, 2014) in it are the conclusions finding Mr. Higgins did not cause a hostile environment. I believe Mr. Flippin wordsmithed the report to say there was not evidence of a hostile work environment due to discrimination and proceeded to urge the agency to terminate Mr. Higgins.”
Brownlow said she is exploring all options.