The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) released a new report this week entitled "Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees."
According to the Board's press release, "this is the first MSPB report to address in such depth the legal challenges that whistleblowers face, including the MSPB’s own case law."
The report spells out the requirements to meet the statutory definition of a whistleblower, offers a definition of retaliation, maps out whistleblower avenues for redress, and provides a brief history of the evolution of whistleblower rights.
Overall, the report offers a stark reminder as to why it's so critical for Congress to strengthen the laws that protect federal whistleblowers. As MSPB Chairwoman Susan Grundmann stated, "it is so important … for Congress to be aware of the difficulties a potential whistleblower may encounter when navigating the law." The quote at the top of the report's introduction, a passage from a Senate Report that accompanied the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, is still relevant today:
"Often, the whistle blower’s reward for dedication to the highest morale [sic] principles is harassment and abuse. Whistle blowers frequently encounter severe damage to their careers and substantial economic loss. Protecting employees who disclose government illegality, waste, and corruption is a major step toward a more effective civil service. In the vast Federal bureaucracy it is not difficult to conceal wrongdoing provided that no one summons the courage to disclose the truth. Whenever misdeeds take place in a Federal agency, there are employees who know that it has occurred, and who are outraged by it. What is needed is a means to assure them that they will not suffer if they help uncover and correct administrative abuses."
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) would go a long way to improve the status quo, enhancing the rights and reducing the risks for federal whistleblowers who warn us of wrongdoing. The bill is pending and action is expected perhaps as early as today, but must pass before the 111th Congress comes to a close this month or it will expire, leaving many whistleblowers vulnerable to the treacherous legal traps detailed in the MSPB report.
It's not too late to call your Members of Congress and urge them to pass the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) right away. If you haven't had a chance to do so yet, please take a moment today and get in touch with your Senators and Representative. We hope S. 372 will finally pass the Senate today, and that the House will quickly follow suit, voting it into law.
-- Bryan Rahija
Image by Flickr user stevendepolo, used under Creative Commons License.