When Valerie Riviello, a nurse at a Veterans Affairs facility in New York, saw the clinic restrain a sexual assault survivor to a bed for seven consecutive hours, she released the woman.
The next day, Ms. Riviello said, she was removed from her post as senior nurse manager and given a full-time desk job that prohibited her from contact with patients. She eventually was reprimanded and is facing a 30-day unpaid suspension for releasing the woman.
Now, Ms. Riviello is one of more than 50 whistleblowers who say the Veterans Affairs Department retaliated against them for trying to do their jobs.
The complaints got backing last week from the Justice Department's office of special counsel, which issued a stern warning for the VA to shape up.
Ms. Riviello said her reprimand for the November incident has cowed other nurses at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in New York.