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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-USAID Investigator Wins Retaliation Appeal

WASHINGTON (CN) - A foreign service investigator was improperly fired by the U.S. Agency for International Development for blowing the whistle on drunken parties at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, the Federal Circuit ruled.

Matthew Drake was first reprimanded for alleged intoxication while working in Tbilisi, Georgia. He was almost suspended for five days, but USAID withdrew the punishment.

Three months later, Drake reported the drunkenness of fellow employees and State Department employees. He sent an e-mail, with photos, to his superior.

An investigation showed that the employees were not legally intoxicated according to the dictionary definition of the word. Drake was transferred back to the United States, and he appealed as a whistleblower who suffered retaliation.

The administrative judge ruled that Drake did not make a "nonfrivolous allegation that he engaged in whistleblowing activity."

The appeals court determined that the administrative judge was wrong in ruling that Drake's report on the parties was not a protected disclosure.

"The administrative judge erred by requiring Mr. Drake to prove that the behavior he observed was in fact caused by intoxication," Judge Moore wrote.

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