Dr. Tommie “Toni” Savage
Dr. Tommie “Toni” Savage was a highly respected Army Corps of Engineers Supervisory Contracting Officer in Huntsville, Alabama. She was responsible for reviewing and awarding highly classified, high-profile Army contract programs. She was recognized by Huntsville’s Deputy Commander as the most valuable employee located in the Huntsville contracting office. Although showered with accolades, awards, and promotions, and after repeatedly being congratulated for her integrity and outstanding performance, her career came to a halt in 2006 as a result of refusing to turn her back on millions of dollars in fraudulent contracting activity occurring in the Army’s “Ranges Program.” When Huntsville’s commander and chief counsel refused to resolve Dr. Savage’s concerns, she bravely presented her concerns to the agency’s internal auditing department. The audit confirmed Dr. Savage’s allegations and led to two separate Army internal investigations (AR 15-6 reports). The AR-15-6 reports substantiated all of Dr. Savage’s allegations and placed blame on Huntsville’s Chief counsel and the Commander for failing to take corrective action. The AR-15-6 reports were not shared with Dr. Savage and were instead covered up. Those implicated in the wronging were never disciplined. Instead, Dr. Savage was subjected to harsh retaliatory treatment. The Army quickly entered into a settlement agreement with Dr. Savage in 2006 it did not intend to honor. The settlement promoted Dr. Savage into Huntsville’s Small Business Chief position but as soon as the ink dried, the retaliation resumed and grew in intensity. The MSPB concluded that Dr. Savage was unlawfully denied performance awards and unlawfully subjected to downgraded performance reviews. She was likewise subjected to racist remarks and a level of constant harassment. The hostility and retaliatory treatment turned Dr. Savage’s work environment toxic, so much so that she could no longer physically enter her office. By 2009, she could not enter the workplace without experiencing significant physical adverse reactions. Her request to be reassigned was denied and when she could no longer physically enter the workplace, she was terminated for being AWOL and removed from federal service.
In 2015, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued a landmark decision in her case. Establishing what is known as the Savage Standard, it ruled that whistleblowers can seek protection under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act when they are subjected to a hostile work environment in retaliation for blowing the whistle. Remarkably, the administrative law judge handling the case failed to abide by the Board’s 2015 ruling and was decisively overruled a second time on October 31, 2022.
In the new ruling, the MSPB determined that the Army constructively suspended Dr. Savage in 2009 and reversed the AWOL charge when the administrative judge, for a second time, failed to consider the entire record as previously directed.
Following the issuance of the October 31, 2022 MSPB decision, the Corps and Dr. Savage were able to settle their remaining differences. Dr. Savage returned to federal service and retired from the Corps in 2023.
Dr. Savage was represented by Michael Kohn of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. He worked tirelessly in the successful adjudication of her case. The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) also supported Dr. Savage in her fight for justice. In 2017, Dr. Savage spoke at NWC’s National Whistleblower Appreciation Day celebration. She is currently an advisory member of the National Whistleblower Day committee. Dr. Savage is President and Founder of Daughter of Zion Ministries, Incorporated.