DuPage Regional Office of Education v. United States Department of Education, No. 21-3339 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Sanchez filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) against his former employer, DuPage Regional Office of Education. Sanchez claimed that, after he made two protected disclosures concerning expenditures to DuPage, he suffered five reprisals in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, 41 U.S.C. 4712. The OIG investigated and determined his claims to be unsubstantiated. An ALJ determined, contrary to the findings of the OIG, that Sanchez was entitled to relief for all five alleged reprisals and ordered DuPage to pay Sanchez compensatory damages of $210,000.
The Seventh Circuit remanded the case to the Department of Education, “suggesting” assignment to a different ALJ. The court held that DuPage did not establish that it was entitled to sovereign immunity from the Department’s adjudication of Sanchez’s whistleblower complaint. On the merits, the court concluded that the actions described by Sanchez were not retaliatory.