Hawaii DOH whistleblower says she was let go from her job


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Department of Health (DOH) whistleblower Dr. Jennifer Smith said she was let go from her job in May and is now suing the State.

Dr. Smith said her termination was a little surprising given that she had an evaluation the week prior and nothing was mentioned about her performance. She tells us she believes she’s being punished for speaking out.

Dr. Smith went public in August 2020 with claims about the State’s understaffed contact tracing program. In September, Dr. Smith’s attorney said she was suspended with pay for an accusation that she acted in a threatening manner at work.

“She was reinstated fully with full benefits and pay because those allegations were found to be unsubstantiated. Their most recent allegations are that she made disturbing comments that were disruptive. And that offended people at the Department of Health,” said her attorney Carl Varady.

Dr. Smith’s attorney said no prior warning was given and says she was terminated on May 28.

“I do believe that I’m being punished for speaking out, they did last year in August, about the failures of leadership. And I think that this is just ongoing retaliation for that,” said Dr. Smith.

In a statement, Dr. Smith said she continued to report as a private citizen what she saw as misleading information released by the DOH.

“Of the statements made about how many contact tracers there were, or how contact tracing was being conducted, or how statistics were being compiled in a way that was not consistent with best practices, all of those things are things that she can fully and fairly comment on as a private citizen, which is what she did,” said Varady.

“I feel like it’s my obligation, moral obligation, to share information and data with people, again, so that they can make the best decision for themselves and for their families,” said Dr. Smith.

DOH confirmed that Dr. Smith no longer works for the Department but could not say why.

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