Toby Mathew

Toby Mathew

The VA System has rehired a former Overton Brooks VA Medical Center director fired amid accusations he bullied and intimidated employees.

Toby Mathew was rehired in October. He won’t return to Shreveport. He’s working at a VA office in Houston, Texas, but will be assigned to the VA’s Office of Organizational Excellence.

Mathew’s work will include “focusing on the GAO High Risk List improvement initiative,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said in a written statement.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs had to take back Toby Mathew, the former director of the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center who was removed from duty in February of 2017, as a result of a flawed and outdated civil service personnel system that makes it difficult to remove employees for legitimate reasons,” Cashour said.

However, the VA System will take another look at the circumstances that led to his firing under new guidelines outlined in the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, according to Cashour.

Mathew arrived at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in June 2014. In just over two years, he racked up a long list of complaints, spelled out in three formal requests seeking an investigation.

The system did investigate – first moving Mathew from Overton Brooks, then firing him earlier this year.

Mathew slammed doors, yelled at staff, belittled employees and retaliated against one employee by moving her to another department after she complained of a hostile working environment, the investigation concluded. The investigation absolved Mathew of three other complaints about his management practices.

"We reviewed the allegation that Mr. Mathew mistreats other employees," the memorandum from the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Accountability Review said. "There is sufficient, credible evidence that Mr. Mathew mistreated (medical center) employees and acted in a manner that was inconsistent with the VA's core values."

Mathew denied engaging in inappropriate behavior toward others, the report said.

The investigation also faulted Mathew for delays in providing doctors credentials to practice at the medical center – a situation that put the hospital’s national accreditation at risk and could have caused harm to patients.

Mathew’s failure to review and sign credentials also could have put hundreds of patients at risk, although the investigation found no evidence patients were harmed, the report said.

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