WASHINGTON, DC--Two national whistleblower protection organizations today announced their opposition to the Bush Administration's latest nominee to serve as the top legal officer for the U.S. Department of Labor. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Government Accountability Project (GAP) today filed letters of opposition to the confirmation of Howard Radzely to serve as Solicitor of the Department of Labor.
No Bush nominee has yet been confirmed as Solicitor. Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold its first hearing on the Radzely nomination. Radzely served as the deputy to the first Bush nominee for Solicitor, Eugene Scalia, whose confirmation was blocked in the previous session of Congress. Scalia resigned this January after his recess appointment lapsed.
PEER and GAP oppose the Radzely nomination as the nation's chief labor law enforcement officer on the following grounds:
Hostility to Whistleblowers. During Radzely's tenure, the Solicitor 's office has used its scarce resources to intervene in cases against whistleblowers filing claims of retaliation under statutes enforced by DOL.
Weakening Environmental Statutes. In one case, Radzely's office filed a highly unusual brief seeking to overturn a $200,000 punitive damages award won by an Assistant U.S. Attorney in an environmental whistleblower case, for reporting irregularities in pollution prosecutions to Congress. Following coverage of this story in the Washington Post, Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy wrote the White House demanding an explanation of the Solicitor's position. In response, Radzely issued a letter retracting some of the more extreme arguments but did not otherwise withdraw the brief.
Abdication of Responsibility for Labor Law Violations Against State Employees. Due to a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, state employees can no longer directly pursue relief for federal labor law violations unless DOL also takes actions against noncompliant state agencies. Under Radzely, DOL has failed to intervene in any such cases. As a result, state workers victimized by violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, federal race, age and sex discrimination laws and occupational safety laws are unprotected.
"The consistent pattern that runs through Mr. Radzely's brief career is advocacy for reduced legal protections for workers," commented PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer. "This nomination stands for the proposition that federal prohibitions against unfair labor practices will not be vigorously enforced."