Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fired hospital director for misconduct, paying him $85,000 to resign, then rehired him at a new location and allowed to keep his resignation settlement.
Terry Atienza, CEO of the VA’s Grand Junction hospital in Colorado, was dismissed from his position after being chronically absent. In a report on Tuesday from The Daily Caller, the VA negotiated a settlement of $85,000 for him to resign “from federal service voluntarily, completely and irrevocably, as stated in the signed Atienza settlement. He was also forced to withdraw “complaints of discrimination, appeals before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), claims to the Office of Special Counsel, administrative grievances, civil actions, [and] claims for worker’s compensation.”
In exchange, the VA “agreed to give a letter of recommendation saying he was ‘excellent’ — a false letter, given that it actually believed he should be fired.”
After his resignation, Atienza began seeking employment at other VA hospitals.
This case is reminiscent of Denver VA regional office director, Melanie Renaye Murphy, who was ‘chronically late or absent 508 times over a 4-year period.’ Also, rewarding so-called misconduct is also a pattern with the agency.
It has been reported that Atienza filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint despite him having the highest-ranking position. He claims that the VA was “guilty” and had “ethical” problems, though failed to produce any examples of racism. He rarely had interaction with his boss – Rocky Mountain regional office director Ralph Gigliotti – whom he waged allegations against. If Atienza’s statements are true, then this settlement would be deemed, “wildly unethical because Gigliotti is the one who authorized and signed it.” Basically, a boss can pay someone off in an effort to prevent their misconduct from being exposed.
When The Daily Caller asked a VA spokesperson about the settlement, they commented that “all parties agreed that it provided the correct outcome for Veterans, employees and stakeholders.”
Additional remarks by The Daily Caller highlight the lack of common sense and blatant mishandling of this case:
It would have been better if VA merely lit the $85,000 on fire. Instead, the agency’s idiotic policies resulted in wasting taxpayer dollars by reinforcing the fact that agency employees, especially its leaders, are above the law. No amount of misconduct or criminality will result in termination in most instances.
Atienza is being allowed to keep his resignation settlement, maintain a regular paycheck, and will not be held accountable for chronic absenteeism. He has since been hired as facility planner in the director’s office at the Shreveport VA facility.
H/P: The Daily Caller
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