By Ginger Whitaker
Federal News Radio
A seven-year Whistleblower Protection Act complaint case involving a science advisor and the United States Marine Corps has been settled, which could pave the way for other whistleblowers down the line.
Franz Gayl claimed he had been retaliated against after raising concerns about delays in delivery of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gayl was stripped of his top secret security clearance, and subjected to suspensions, a criminal investigation and other admonishments, according to the Government Accountability Project. The absence of MRAPs for overseas troops had accounted for more than half of combat deaths and other casualties, GAP said in a release. The number dropped by more than 90 percent after the vehicles were delivered.
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The case reached a turning point in 2011, when Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner obtained a stay of ongoing retaliation, and the case moved into mediation.
With Thursday’s settlement, Gayl will maintain his position and earn an award.
“This resolution not only vindicates me but also my loyalty and dedication to the Marines, which never wavered,” Gayl said in GAP’s news release. “I wish to thank the Corps and the Office of Special Counsel for hard work and dedication to the merit system. Most of all, I’d like to thank my wife for her loyalty during a seven-year nightmare from which we never knew if we would wake up. Without her, I could not have made it.”
The settlement also appoints Gayl to a new team tasked with developing guidelines for Whistleblower Protection Act rights and implementation within the Marine Corps.
“Mr. Gayl’s experiences as a whistleblower as well as being a former uniformed Marine and current civilian employee will make him an important contributor to the new team’s work,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said, in a release.
An attorney for Gayl, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, added, “In my experience, it is unprecedented to appoint a whistleblower to help any agency develop policy for whistleblower rights, let alone a military service. The Marines deserve credit where it is due. This victory would not have occurred without the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, whose lawyers stopped the bleeding and whose Alternative Disputes Resolution unit healed the wounds with marathon determination. Hopefully, this will be a precedent for whistleblowing disputes to end through consensus, instead of conflict.”