Undercover Video Leads to Losing Federal Job

A Justice Department employee who recently appeared in an undercover video is no longer employed by the agency.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publication.

Last week in the article Using Government Software and Information to “Resist” Administration, an employee of the Department of Justice made the statement on an undercover video that “What’s kind of lucky is at the DOJ, we can’t really get fired.”

The latest information regarding the employment status of the employee in the video is that she is no longer an employee of the agency.

The employee, Allison Hrabar, was employed as a paralegal at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC where she worked as a paralegal specialist. Her salary in fiscal year 2017 was $46,440 according to information at FedsDataCenter.com.

Hrabar was among several members of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who took part in a protest in June confronting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In April of this year, Hrabar led a protest at the home of a lobbyist, Jeremy Wiley. Hrabar explained in the video how she was able to find Wiley’s address. She also noted she was not allowed to “officially” use the government database for this type of activity.

Hrabar: “And so we ran the license plate, and it was a car registered to Jeremy Wiley, so you have his car parked outside a house that he does own. As of very recently, and someone saw him through the window, which is also…

Interviewer: “Also, we’re able to run license plates through?”

Hrabar: “You can—We cannot do it officially.”

No Longer An Employee of the Justice Department

DOJ Director of Public Affairs Sarah Isgur Flores has confirmed the current status of Hrabar’s situation with the Justice Department with the statement: “She is no longer an employee.”

Why Hrabar Says She Was Fired

According to her GoFundMe page, which she has set up to pay her expenses now that she no longer has a job as a federal employee, Hrabar wrote:

I was fired in retaliation for confronting DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at dinner  in June….My performance reviews remain as outstanding as they were when I started my job two years ago.”

Despite all that, on September 18, I was told that Assistant Attorney General of Antitrust Makan Delrahim chose not to renew my term and my last day would be October 2. I prepared to continue working and close my active cases over the next week, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

When I got to work on September 24, I was met at the door by security and forced to pack up my office. I was told, again, that this was merely a non-renewal of my term.

She does not mention her role or comments in the undercover video as described last week in Using Government Software and Information to “Resist” Administration. From her comments, the agency did not give her a reason for her removal; she was only informed that her appointment was not being renewed.

This may be because any subsequent case is probably easier to defend rather than citing the undercover video or her actions with regard to public confronting the Homeland Security Secretary. Regardless of the reason, it would appear the agency concluded her value to the agency was no longer held in high regard.

It is unlikely specific information will be forthcoming from the agency regarding her job status.

Hrabar’s Status as a Federal Employee

While Hrabar said in the video that “Like, what’s kind of lucky is at the DOJ, we can’t really get fired,” the reality is that there are several options that may be open to an agency to remove or fire an employee. While the Department of Justice may not fire many people, they certainly have the legal expertise to get rid of an employee that the agency decides should not be collecting a federal paycheck.

Based on her comments, Hrabar may have had a temporary appointment rather than filling a job as a career employee.

A temporary appointment is one expected to last for a specified period not to exceed 1 year or a specified period of time that is at least more than 1-year but not to exceed 4 years.

She may also have been on a term appointment which is time-limited to more than one year but not more than 4 years. Neither type of appointment is a permanent one, so they do not give the employee competitive/permanent status as a federal employee.

Regardless of how she was hired, there is little doubt that she has made decisions and taken actions that have resulted in her losing a good job in a federal agency. No doubt, making the comment that “we can’t really get fired” at DOJ was not a good idea.

She notes on her GoFundMe page that the agency’s “decision to force me out of a job has left me without insurance to cover my high medical costs, and without an income to cover the legal fees needed to fight back.”

Status of Another Employee in an Undercover Video

Another federal employee identified in the same undercover video, Natarajan Subramanian, has been “removed from any ongoing GAO work and cut off from access to GAO equipment” according to the GAO. The investigation, the agency said, would include a review of “his work product.”

This comment was issued by Project Veritas.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47