Pittman calls for federal investigation of city’s VA Medical Center

In letters to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and Congressman James Lankford, state Rep. Anastasia Pittman has called for a federal investigation of employment practices, alleged civil rights violations and patient care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which is in her state legislative district.

“My office has received a number of complaints about unfair employment practices at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center,” said Pittman, an Oklahoma City Democrat. 

“It is alleged that management have been reprising against those employees who report wrongdoing. Furthermore, it is also alleged that the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has been unfairly targeting and monitoring minority employees and their churches. These employees and churches are not terrorists or terrorist organizations. 

Various churches in Northeast Oklahoma City, including my church, the Northeast Church of Christ, have been targeted and monitored by the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center.

“No federal government agency should be allowed to monitor its employees’ churches. I firmly believe that if these practices are true, then the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center’s actions are unconstitutional. This is why I have called for an investigation.”

In late August 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees National Veterans Affairs Council sent a Joint Intervention Team to the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center to inquire into allegations of disparaging treatment, allegations of union animus, allegations of adverse impact on patient care and to seek improvements in the relationship between management and labor at that facility.

On Sept. 16, 2011, the team released its report on the visit, Pittman said.

“The report was alarming in many areas and pointed out major civil rights violations. However, none of the recommendations from the team were acted upon. This investigation should consist of why the suggestions were not taken into consideration or why the outcome was not revealed.”

On Oct. 26, 2011, John U. Sepulveda, Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs convened a multi-disciplinary assessment team to examine the work environment at the medical center, including equal employment opportunity, human resources, labor-management relations and the overall work environment.

“I am concerned that Secretary Sepulveda has yet to release a report from that team,” Pittman said. “The report has been requested and we are awaiting their findings. I believe veterans should receive the best care possible; this investigation will help ensure that our veterans receive the care they deserve.”