Former FBI Agent Fights to Maintain Whistleblower Defense

Attorneys for former FBI agent John Parkinson recently filed a brief asking the U.S. Federal Circuit Court to allow him the rights to use the whistleblower defense in retaliation for his 2012 firing.

Eight years ago, Parkinson, who was in charge of an FBI special operations unit in Sacramento at the time, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging sexual misconduct against two coworkers. In the complaint Parkinson identified one coworker as having an obsession with pornography and viewing pornographic material while at work. Another coworker was singled out for “having a career-long pattern of soliciting prostitutes.”

Soon after the complaint was filed, Parkinson was given an unsatisfactory performance review and dismissed from his leadership position in what he viewed as retaliation to his complaints. Parkinson wrote to Rep. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, explaining his concerns and the letter was sent on to the inspector general of the Department of Justice. The DOJ reviewed his case and Parkinson found himself under investigation after the two coworkers he complained about alleged misconduct about him, including charges of obstructing an investigation and misleading investigators. He was fired by the FBI in 2012.

Parkinson was an Iraq War Veteran so he turned to the Merit System Protection Board which allows FBI personnel that are military veterans the ability to challenge such decisions. The U.S. Court of Appeals heard his case and agreed that Parkinson did not mislead investigators but held up the obstruction charge. In the decision, it was noted that Parkinson should not have been fired and at the most should have gotten a 30-day suspension.

The DOJ filed its own briefs claiming that the whistleblower defense should not be allowed by FBI personnel. Now the DOJ has asked for a hearing to reassess the whistleblower defense. The court’s decision could threaten FBI war veterans if it sides with the FBI.

“This is going to impact all future veteran FBI whistleblowers,” said Kathleen McClellan, one of Parkinson’s attorneys.

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