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Veterans Wrongfully Denied Benefits While The VA Looks The Other Way

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Published on Nov 28, 2012

Recent news reports, about the huge backlog of disability claims at the Oakland VA regional office, also included a story about my efforts in 2007 and 2008, as a VA claims processor to prevent the VA's mishandling of the disability claim of Navy veteran, Hosea Roundtree. Mr. Roundtree's claim was denied based on faulty information which I had brought to the attention of VA management to no avail. I was fired a few months later, and my termination letter accused me of failure to follow instructions regarding his claim. It has now become evident, through earlier sworn testimony and documentary evidence, that it was the Oakland VA that mishandled Mr. Roundtree's claim, not me. The VA continues, through these court proceedings, to try to cover-up their callous indifference to the validity of Mr. Roundtree's claim. In fact, management officials in a covert operation to fire me, violated the American Federation of Government Employees Union agreement Article 31, and later lied to the Administrative Judge during my EEOC hearing, when they stated that the Oakland VA was not obligated to follow the Union agreement. This violation of the Union agreement has allowed the VA to continue to make false accusations against me, using Mr. Roundtree's claim as both a shield and a sword. VA management officials know for a fact that 100% of my work product was reviewed for accuracy, and that I had sought guidance on Mr. Roundtree's claim from numerous superiors who directly supervised my work; and none of who told me or reported to anyone at the time that I allegedly had done anything wrong with Mr. Roundtree's claim. Further, during this same hearing, former director Lynn Flint stated "it did not matter if the decision (to deny Roundtree's claim) was right or wrong." The local Union President at the time of my firing had argued with management officials in my defense that new employees do not realize that the VA is a giant bureaucracy, and instead imagine that the VA actually arrives at the truth of submitted claims. I finally had the pleasure of meeting Hosea Roundtree a few months ago, and helped him to reopen his disability claim. Hopefully, the VA will do the right thing this time and approve his disability benefits. Also mentioned in the news reports about Mr. Roundtree and me, was the lawsuit I filed in September 2011, against the Department of Veterans Affairs for Wrongful Termination. Today, I want to make clear that I was not fired because of Mr. Roundtree's disability claim. That accusation was just another deliberate cover-up by the Oakland VA regional office. This employment discrimination lawsuit is based upon the Oakland VA's unlawful retaliation against me for my coming forward as a vocal witness to the ongoing discrimination and harassment of my co-worker, Ann Williams, who is an attorney, is also a former Navy lieutenant, and a former mayor of Pinole. Ann was targeted by other employees based upon race and anti-gay prejudice. She was publicly mimicked for her Southern accent, humiliated, and called names like "homo" and "dyke". Her work was tampered with by the ring-leader of those who chose to ostracize her. One employee told me that Ann was quote, "the kind of girl who should be taken in the locker room, wrapped in a towel and beaten." At my urging, Ann, who was an excellent employee, finally complained to our supervisor, Kimberly Yarbrough, and when management refused to investigate, I came forward to support her claim of harassment and discrimination with what I directly saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. Not only did management fail to stop the harassment and refuse to investigate, they immediately set about to fire Ann after she complained. If that wasn't enough, Ann was taken from work by ambulance for high blood pressure and tachycardia, and two weeks later, she was forced to share a small cubicle with a man who openly treated her with contempt. Not long after that - she was fired, allegedly for poor performance, and I was also terminated within moments of Ann.
"Juvenile" and "none of my business" was how the supervisor Kimberly Yarbrough, who recommended our firings, responded to my reporting to her about the prejudice and hostility directed at Ann Williams. This is the same supervisor who testified in related hearings that I should have ignored the errors in Mr. Roundtree's claim for disability because, as she pointed out, he could always appeal. If we had not complained to Oakland VA management about the discrimination and prejudice in our workplace, we would still be there, doing a job we loved, helping other veterans like Hosea Roundtree. I also ask that anyone who has information about our case to please do the right thing and come forward. Thank you

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