Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government. These employees may have reported a specific agency for misconduct or evidence of violation of a law, gross mismanagement, waste of government funding, or abuse of authority. If any agency should retaliate against a whistleblower, or even threatens or suggests such action, the individual may seek protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

While it may appear that a whistleblower is protected by law if any form of retaliation occurs, this is rarely an accurate conclusion.

  • Whistleblower PosterOne authorized federal agency, the Office of Special Counsel, investigates such complaints. Unfortunately, in 2008 the OSC Chief Scott Bloch resigned due to an FBI investigation regarding deleting information about claims in which he was involved.
  • There is also the Merit Systems Protection Board, which you might say is a quasi-judicial agency that adjudicates whistleblower complaints. Within this agency, administrative law judges are appointed. Needless to say, as with other agencies, they often back the government. In fact, according to a Government Accountability Project analysis, the board has only ruled three times in 56 cases for the whistleblower based on their merits.
  • Another authorized federal agency is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is the only court empowered to hear appeals of whistleblower cases. This agency has also been criticized in Congress for misinterpreting the whistleblower laws and setting precedent that is hostile to a whistleblower. In fact, they have only ruled in favor of whistleblowers three times out of 203 cases between the years of 1994 and 2010. This is hardly something that a claimant wishes to hear.

Federal whistleblowers have seen their protections diminish in recent years, primarily as a result of decisions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has exclusive jurisdiction over many cases under the Whistleblower Protection Act.  The Court has given a narrow definition as to the type of disclosure that qualifies for whistleblower protection. Additionally, there are no remedies in place under the current law for most whistleblowers in the intelligence community, even though additional whistleblower protections for intelligence agency employees was ordered by Pres. Obama in the Presidential Policy Directive in 2012.

Thus far I have only discussed the Whistleblowers Act.  However there is another to be considered, this being the No Fear Act. This is the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002. This act urges employers within a federal agency to maintain their obligation to provide a workplace free from discrimination and retaliation. The agency employers have five categories of new duties: they must reimburse payments to past, future and present employees due to alleged/actual violations of employment laws and or whistleblower protection laws, provide annual notices regarding rights and remedies under discrimination and whistleblower laws, every two years they must provide training of rights and remedies under these laws, the agency must submit to Congress and others and annual reports about the its efforts to improve compliance with such laws and detailing the status of complaints brought against the agency under these laws, and they also must post quarterly on its public website a summary of statistical data pertaining to EEO complaints filed with the agency.

Hopefully the above information will provide insight into your options regarding laws that are put in place to protect an employee from discrimination or retaliation. It is most unfortunate that these agencies often don’t side with the employee.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Teresa Agostino

Originally from Canada, Terri moved to the US at 16 and joined the Army Reserves at 17. She went active Army in 1991, and spent almost 2 years in Iraq as a program analyst for the Army Corps of Engineers. She currently works for the VA as an Accounts Management Supervisor. Terri has her MBA in HR management.
Teresa Agostino

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