Veterans Affairs whistle-blower faces punishment for revealing alleged harasser, email shows

An employee at the embattled Veterans Affairs hospital in Arizona is facing a punishment ranging from “reprimand to removal,” FOX News has learned, for publicly revealing the name of a colleague he claims harassed him after the whistle-blower exposed exceedingly long wait times for patients at the Phoenix facility. In a letter dated March 30, the VA accused scheduling manager Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez of violating “privacy standards you are expected to enforce [and] breaching your responsibilities as a supervisor,” by sending the media a copy of an email he wrote to the hospital director that detailed alleged harassment and included the name of a colleague as one of the top offenders.

The VA claims divulging the name of a fellow employee violates its policy prohibiting release of “Sensitive Personal Information” (SPI) without permission. This includes “education, financial transactions, medical history, criminal or employment history, and information that can be used to distinguish or trace the individual’s identity.” 

>>VIDEO: Why has reforming the Veterans Affairs been so difficult?

Rodriguez acknowledged his email named an assistant as someone who had criticized him in front of veterans and others -- but said he didn't disclose any personal information.

“Just reporting someone's name shouldn't be secret -- we are government employees,” Rodriguez told FOX News. “They are trying to twist anything they can to punish me.”

The Phoenix VA hospital was the epicenter of allegations ranging from lax care to misconduct in 2014 when a scheduling clerk became the first whistle-blower to disclose that a secret appointment wait list existed and dozens of would-be patients had died. 

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