Two whistleblowers have accused the Federal Bureau of Prisons of trying to banish them to inappropriate work spaces — including a converted jail cell with no desk, computer or phone — after they lodged complaints against the agency.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel brought the actions to light on Tuesday, announcing that it had won relief for the employees after investigating their claims.
In one case, Chicago-based field administrator Linda Thomas said the head of her office tried to transfer her to a former jail cell after she accused the manager of an inappropriate attempt to move the staff to a complex closer to the supervisor’s suburban home.
Thomas also said the manager received excessive pay after taking a voluntary demotion. Federal employees can collect the same salary for two years after moving to a lower grade, but Thomas said the rate continued for about four years for the supervisor.
Thomas was eventually assigned to a converted jail cell isolated from other administrative facilities. She would have had to climb staircases surrounded by prison inmates in order to reach the work space.
The Office of Special Counsel intervened in the matter, and the bureau canceled the move on the day before Thomas was scheduled to switch to the new location. The employee was allowed to remain in her existing work space and later moved to another facility that was satisfactory to her, according to Tuesday’s announcement.
The other case involved Minnesota-based employee Julia Landucci, who was assigned to a new office one-sixth the size of her usual work space after reporting alleged mismanagement and misconduct within the bureau’s substance-abuse program.
The new office was directly next to another employee against whom Landucci had filed claims of discrimination and workplace violence.
Management officials took other actions against the employee, including removing her from overseeing the drug-abuse program, referring her for a mental-health exam and denying her educational reimbursement.
The bureau has agreed to postpone Landucci’s move while the Office of Special Counsel continues to investigate her claims.
The bureau declined to comment when contacted by The Washington Post on Tuesday.