Marsha Coleman-Adebayo's new book, No Fear: The Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA, tells about the ordeal she went through while working at the EPA in the 1990s. She told NPR:
For me, working at the EPA was a very harrowing experience. … I was surprised that the in environment of the EPA, instead of being rewarded for being proficient in what you do, loyalty was a much greater value. When I began questioning U.S. policy, I was considered disloyal. And at that point, at the minds of many people at the EPA, I had become their enemy.
Coleman-Adebayo says she faced racial and gender-based discrimination during her time at the office. But her real problems started when she questioned her supervisors' reaction to a problem she found out about while working with the 1996 Gore-Mbeki commission in South Africa.
Coleman-Adebayo had expertise in South Africa, and while she was working with the commission, South African women approached her with stories of an American vanadium-mining company where workers were experiencing strange ailments. Their tongues were turning green, and they were bleeding from their eyes, ears, and genitals. Coleman-Adebayo reported the situation, but instead of her superiors being appropriately horrified, she says she was "literally told to shut up.” Oh, and then there was the small matter of the rape threats and death threats for speaking out.
But she didn’t shut up. Instead, she filed a lawsuit against the agency that resulted, eventually, in the passage of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act or No FEAR Act, which helps train federal workers on retaliation and discrimination issues.
We’re still not gonna go all Bachmann on the EPA, or anything. But it’s depressing when even the good guys aren’t the good guys. (Exception: Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, who is clearly awesome.)