Home Posts Rebekah Jones, A Data Scientist In Florida, Has Been Designated As A Whistleblower.
Rebekah Jones, A Data Scientist In Florida, Has Been Designated As A Whistleblower.
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Rebekah Jones, A Data Scientist In Florida, Has Been Designated As A Whistleblower.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida Department of Health employee who was fired for repeatedly violating the agency's policy on communicating with the media has been granted whistleblower status.

Rebekah Jones, the employee, had raised concerns about Florida's COVID-19 data after being fired as the data's curator, according to state records. State officials said she was fired for insubordination after being reprimanded several times.

According to the Miami Herald, the Office of the Inspector General informed her lawyers on Friday that “the information disclosed meets the criteria for whistleblower status as described by... Florida statutes.”

Jones, who assisted in the development of the state's online presentation of COVID-19 data, gained national attention a year ago when she raised concerns about the information being reported by the state at a time when Florida was at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, implying that Health Department managers wanted her to manipulate data to paint a rosier picture, and she resisted.

According to the Herald, Jones' complaint demonstrates "reasonable cause to suspect that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor has violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation."

Jones could be reinstated or compensated under the state's whistleblower laws if an investigation determines that her firing was in retaliation for the concerns she raised.

Jones told the Herald that, while the inspector's decision was not "vindication," it was "a start" and "a big push forward."

The governor's office and the Department of Health both issued statements downplaying the significance of the decision.

“Whistleblower status does not substantiate any claims; it simply provides confidentiality and indicates that someone made a complaint,” said Taryn Fenske, the governor’s spokesperson.

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