TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida Division of Well being worker has obtained whistleblower standing a 12 months after being fired for repeatedly violating the company’s coverage about speaking with the media.
The worker, Rebekah Jones, had raised questions on Florida’s COVID-19 knowledge after being ousted as the info’s curator. State officers mentioned she was fired for insubordination after being reprimanded a number of occasions, in line with state data.
The Miami Herald reported that the Workplace of the Inspector Basic instructed her attorneys on Friday that “the knowledge disclosed does meet the factors for whistleblower standing as described by … Florida statutes.”
Jones, who helped construct the state’s on-line presentation of its COVID-19 knowledge, obtained nationwide consideration a 12 months in the past when she sowed doubt concerning the data being reported by the state when Florida was an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. She instructed that Well being Division managers wished her to govern data to color a rosier image and that she pushed again.
A letter from Inspector Basic Michael J. Bennett, the Herald reported, mentioned Jones’ grievance demonstrates “affordable trigger to suspect that an worker or agent of an company or impartial contractor has violated any federal, state or native regulation, rule or regulation.”
Underneath the state’s whistleblower guidelines, Jones might be reinstated or be eligible for compensation if an investigation finds her firing was in retaliation for the considerations she raised.
Jones instructed the Herald that whereas not “vindication,” she referred to as the inspector’s ruling “a begin” and “a giant push ahead.”
Spokespeople for the governor’s workplace and the Division of Well being downplayed the importance of the ruling.
“Whistleblower standing doesn’t substantiate any claims. It merely supplies confidentiality, and means somebody made a grievance,” the governor’s spokesperson, Taryn Fenske, instructed the Herald.