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Findings of Whistleblower Retaliation by Indian Health Service Contractor Management

The Special Investigations Branch (SIB) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), conducted an investigation in response to allegations brought forth by a complainant at Tohono O’odham Nation Health Care (TONHC), a tribal facility that operates under a Funding Agreement with the Indian Health Service. The complainant alleged that while working for TONHC as a radiology supervisor, the complainant’s supervisors and responsible management officials (RMOs), physicians who served in acting clinical director capacities, retaliated against the complainant for reporting misconduct they observed at TONHC. Specifically, investigators found that the complainant raised concerns to management officials at TONHC that staff were receiving improper compensation for hours they did not work and that patients were being transported to the radiology department in an unsafe manner. OIG investigators found that the RMOs denied the complainant’s retention bonus, issued the complainant a clarification of expectations letter, and subsequently constructively discharged the complainant in retaliation for making protected disclosures. The OIG investigative report was provided to the Secretary of HHS and included recommendations for appropriate action to compensate the complainant.