Cefalu is a 51 year old ATF worker who claims he earns more than $150,000 a year as a special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) but currently sits behind a desk doing little or nothing all day. He alleges this is because he is the victim of retaliation by ATF managers after he reported in 2005 what he said was an illegal wiretap plan in a racketeering case. His records show ATF supervisors claim he’s had performance and discipline issues. Records show ATF disputes his claims of the planned illegal wiretap.
But he said that started a series of retaliatory measures that ended up in 2007 with him in a desk job. His only negative evaluation, he said, was the year after he criticized the planned wiretap. Cefalu filed a series of grievances and an age-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but an administrative judge ruled against him. His attorney is appealing that decision.
Cefalu stated in a CNN interview: “I am sitting here with an empty in box and nothing to do. I’ll keep you apprised.” Thereafter, CNN gave Cefalu a video camera to document what he does at work. For five days, he recorded himself inside his own office.
“Had I not exposed some unethical, potentially criminal clearly outside policy conduct and actions by law enforcement that I was working with, none of this would have happened,” Cefalu said. “I would still be working in the field.”
CNN has also interviewed dozens of other ATF supervisors, agents and employees around the country who said they’ve been demoted or labeled troublemakers just for filing a complaint.
In response to employee Cefalu not doing any work all day, Melson, deputy director of ATF since 2009 said: “Well, I will certainly look into it and find out why he is not doing anything all day.” He added, “I will make sure that he puts in a full day’s work, because everybody is going to put in a full day’s work at ATF.” In an interview with CNN, Melson said he was not permitted to discuss employee cases. But he insisted that he does not tolerate any type of retaliation.
Other ATF agents in the Las Vegas office, claim they were suspected of writing anonymous letters complaining about ATF, and also allege that they were the targets of retaliation by managers.
ATF associate chief counsel Eleanor Loos made a statement in which she said “she considers the EEO process as the employees’ ‘bitching platform’ and “employees use this as a means to complain.” “Loos stated in a bragging manner that the EEO process can be dragged on and can take up to three years,” the statement said.
Interestingly, since 2005, ATF has paid a total of $1.6 million to settle discrimination claims, according to federal government records. Also records show, ATF has more discrimination complaints filed per employee than the DEA or the FBI.