Brittney Lowe, a senior interior designer at the Memphis VA was convicted in 2009, 2013 and most recently in 2017 of driving under the influence and is now back working at the medical center, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Her most recent conviction took place on March 9, 2017, after which point she served a 60-day sentence.
In March, Memphis VA whistleblower Sean Higgins told Communities Digital News that Lowe was on paid leave during her sentence under the category of “donated leave,” which is usually made available to employees experiencing sickness.
Under the Obama administration, numerous cases came to light of employees with criminal convictions returning to work without consequences, but VA officials ignored those examples and many others involving high-level management and front-line employees who engaged in theft or terrible work.
However, since the entrance of the Trump administration and the appointment of David Shulkin to the position of secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, accountability has become much more of a focus. For example, when news broke that an employee had watched pornography in front of a veteran patient, the VA moved to bar that employee from working with any patients, despite the fact that the department couldn’t immediately fire the employee due to regulations. Shulkin has since strongly advocated reforms through Congress to grant him more authority to fire poorly performing employees and senior officials at will.
Additionally, after a rush inspector general report highlighted dangerous conditions at the D.C. VA medical center, the VA removed the facility director Brian Hawkins from his position immediately and placed him on administrative duties.
The VA refused to answer any questions about Lowe’s status at the facility from TheDCNF, citing privacy laws.
“Privacy laws prohibit our speaking to any personal, employee-specific issue; however as a Federal agency, we comply with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidelines related to issues involving the work status of employees, as well as Federal Vehicle Fleet Management guidelines for operators of government vehicles,” Willie Logan, spokeswoman for the Memphis medical center, told TheDCNF.
“While we value our employees and work with them to provide any needed assistance to ensure their success in their job, employees are held accountable to perform the duties of their job,” Logan said. “In cases where additional assistance is needed, we offer an Employee Assistance Program available to all employees. In any case where circumstances indicate that an employee is no longer capable of satisfactorily performing the duties of their job, appropriate action is taken.”
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