What You Should Know About the Whistleblower Protection Act
Whistleblowers are a vital part of our society. Without them, corruption and unfair and unsafe practices would continue unabated. These brave men and women have differing legal protections based upon what they blow the whistle on, whom they blow the whistle on, and where they live. One law that protects some is the Whistleblower Protection Act, which was supplemented in 2012 by the Whistleblower Protections Enhancement Act.
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The Whistleblower Protection Act Protects Federal Employees
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal employees who work for the government and report agency misconduct. This law prohibits agencies from taking or threatening to take retaliatory action when a federal employee files a complaint regarding agency wrongdoing. In order to receive protection, certain conditions must be met. The whistleblower must reasonably believe that there is or has been:
● evidence of a violation of a law, rule, or regulation,
● evidence of gross mismanagement,
● a gross waste of funds,
● an abuse of authority, or
● a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
Various court decisions limited the rights of whistleblowers under the Whistleblower Protection Act. For example, the Federal Circuit had very narrowly defined the type of disclosure that qualified for protection under the law. Whistleblowers were not prevailing in court after they suffered retaliation, and the problem continued to worsen. Because of this, Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act in order to broaden protections. This bill received broad bipartisan support. Around the same time, President Obama granted additional protection for intelligence agency employees by signing Presidential Policy Directive 19.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act did a few things to increase the effectiveness of federal protections. It broadened the definition of disclosure that had been limited by the courts. It also extended protections to TSA employees who previously had not been covered. It ensured that whistleblower protections trump agency non-disclosure agreements. It also eliminated the provision of the Whistleblower Protection Act that limited jurisdiction over these cases exclusively to the Federal Circuit.
What Counts as a Disclosure That Did Not Used to Count?
Under the old law, a whistleblower was not protected if he or she made his or her disclosure to a supervisor who was the wrongdoer or made the disclosure during the course of his or her job duties. These disclosures would now be protected.
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