Former employee files whistleblower suit against VA Canteen Services

By Justin Stoltzfus | Jul 21, 2018

In a complaint filed July 11, counsel for plaintiff Terri Hunter brings a whistleblower claim against the Department of Veterans Affairs Canteen Services in the Western District of Louisiana – alleging that the plaintiff was retaliated against for reporting poor handling of food and drug products. 

After reporting the numerous violations of Louisiana law to her supervisors, plaintiff was subjected to "retaliatory behavior from her supervisors and co-workers, including but not limited to harassment and adverse employment action,” wrote plaintiff's counsel, James Sudduth III of Sudduth and Associates. 

In the complaint, Sudduth shows that the plaintiff was given a letter of termination effective July 11, 2017 during her probationary period of employment. Sudduth also cited positive employee reviews prior to her voluntary resignation that she says was performed under duress.

In detailing the case to the court, Sudduth also characterizes free-speech violations related to the plaintiff speaking out about “inappropriate sale of dangerous or otherwise unsafe merchandise and services to veterans of the Armed Forces.”

Procedurally, plaintiff's counsel shows the failure of the defendant to comply with state law.

Plaintiff's counsel is asking for back pay and other damages.

Speaking to Louisiana record July 19, Sudduth talked about what his client is seeking, and likely outcomes.

“We would like her employment record cleared – so that she can seek future employment,” Sudduth said. “We are suing for back pay to make her whole.”

Speaking to the strength of the case, he said it's the causal relationship that makes him confident the plaintiff can succeed.

“She was working hard doing her job,” Sudduth said. “That temporal component – that's what's so powerful here.”

Also, he said, the major point of the case is not just to arbitrarily impose punitive measures, but to make sure that the kinds of violations that Hunter saw don't happen again.

“The goal and the intent here is to hold the VA accountable,” Sudduth said. “We are suing to make sure that the VA cleans up its act …. the real ultimate hope here is that they modify their behavior.”

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