HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Dartanya Hausburg, a former registered nurse who served in the U.S. Air Force, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hausburg worked in the Emergency Room and other departments of the James A. Haley VA Hospital located in Tampa starting in October 2014 until he was terminated in July 2018.
Hausburg allegedly suffers from a variety of illnesses, including chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, visual impairment, panic attacks, and major depressive disorder, among other ailments, and would bring his service dog to work.
With a nursing history since 2002, Hausburg’s alleged troubles began when he complained in September 2015 that a fellow nurse was bullying, harassing, and stalking him, while the nurse also made sexual allegations against Hausburg. According to the lawsuit, Hausburg’s complaints about the nurse were doubted until video surveillance showed the nurse coming onto Hausburg’s property uninvited.
Before evidence occurred, Hausburg’s superior investigated him for inappropriate behavior. He then filed an EEOC complaint, stating he was experiencing a hostile work environment and disparate treatment because he was black or male, or because of “reprisal.” He was accused thereafter of apparently harassing the nurse who was proven to be stalking him, which led to a summary proceeding of his performance which could have led to his termination.
In December 2017, Hausburg requested a work leave to attend an EEOC hearing, which he was entitled to attend under EEOC rules for federal employees, but he was accused of going “AWOL” with his request denied. His future annual leave pay was later docked.
After three total EEOC complaints, investigations, and being re-assigned to nursing education, Hausburg was in disputes with management over his time and attendance and was required to re-submit his application for medical disability retirement. One nurse in charge told him not to return to work with an animal, although she was unaware he had filed for reasonable accommodations. The request for accommodations was shortly thereafter denied.
On July 22, 2018, Hausburg was officially discharged from his duties for “clinical and professional incompetence” with no relevant documents backing the charges. Later, the VA’s Disciplinary Appeals Board rejected the decision to discharge Hausburg, due to lack of evidence supporting the termination’s claim. Three managers involved in Hausburg’s process for termination were found responsible for withholding information, which proved that most of what they claimed Hausburg had not done in his line of duty was done. Hausburg was reprimanded for one procedural deficiency in his performance but was re-instated and ordered to receive back pay.
But Hausburg’s troubles still persisted as his back pay was not issued as the Disciplinary Appeals Board had instructed. His attempt to file for disability was denied, as his manager said he was not disabled but an “incompetent and poor employee.” Eventually, he appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board which sided with him that he should be back-paid to February 2018.
The lawsuit presents counts of “Retaliation,” a “Hostile Work Environment,” “Family Medical Leave Act” violations, “Disability Discrimination and Failure to Reasonably Accommodate Disability,” and “Injunctive Relief.”
But is Hausburg the victim he claims he is?
Thomas Boczar has lived next door to Hausburg for four years and is a former law enforcement officer and U.S. Army veteran who served in combat. When asked about his neighbor, he said, “He’s a psychopath in my opinion. After dealing with his 14 dogs – which he admitted to me he’s a dog breeder – I said to him that ‘we live so close together’ regarding trouble with excrement from his dogs that he never picks up and that winds up in my yard when he mows and causes a stink. And the dogs are barking after midnight making it hard to sleep. But all he had to say was, ‘I can do whatever the f— I want to do.”
Boczar said Hausburg’s actions have led to his wife crying. When asked if he thinks Hausburg is disabled, Boczar said, “No. Personally, I think he’s a complete fraud, an absolute liar. I think his disability is contrived. That’s my opinion from things I’ve seen.” Boczar has not been charged by authorities in any neighbor confrontations, although Hausburg has complained of harassment. Hausburg was charged with first-degree battery over a June 2020 incident where he shoved Boczar with the handle of his lawnmower and pushed his head, knocking off his hat.
The attorney for Mr. Hausburg is Joseph D. Magri of Merkel and Magri, P.A., Tampa. They have demanded a trial by jury.