Legal news and tips for employees, by Law Office of Eugene Lee

Senate Passes Legislation to Strengthen Whistleblower Protection Act

Government employees who speak out against corruption, fraud or danger to public safety, usually at great cost to their careers and personal lives, have long found the door to justice slammed shut in their faces. U.S. officials have engaged in nothing less than all-out war to silence and punish whistleblowers. The courts, instead of upholding the law, have acted as their accomplices.

In 1989, Congress had enacted the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), a law that was intended to protect federal government whistleblowers. After being strengthened in 1994, the WPA went on to be gutted by 13 years of hostile rulings by the highly political Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over the WPA. The Federal Circuit ruled against federal whistleblowers in a stunning 129 out of 131 decisions. The desperate plight of federal whistleblowers was covered in-depth by Salon.com in November 2007.

On December 18, 2007, the Senate unanimously passed S.274, a bill to restore and strengthen the WPA. A similar bill already passed the House on March 14, 2007. All that remains is for a composite bill to be approved and sent to President Bush for his signature.

President Bush, no friend of the whistleblower, has already vowed to veto any attempts to strengthen whistleblower rights. However, Congress is expected to comfortably override his veto by the necessary 2/3 margin.

Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), along with other members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had introduced the “Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act”, S.274 back in 2000, but the bill was mired for 8 years in a procedural labyrinth.

Here are the highlights of S.274:

– Neutralizes the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 disastrous decision, Garcetti v Ceballos, 547 U.S. ____ (2006) (which had ruled that government employees have no first amendment free speech protections for job-related whistleblowing statements).

– Restores unqualified requirement that whistleblowers have only a “reasonable belief”.

– Bars President from imposing “intelligence employee” status in an end run to deprive whistleblowers of their merit system rights after they file suit.

– Removes WPA from the exclusive appellate review of the anti-whistleblower Federal Circuit Court and restores all-Circuit judicial review.

– Authorizes whistleblowers to disclose classified information to Members of Congress or their staff.

– Strengthens protections of whistleblowers against retaliatory investigations.

It is good to see Congress step in and right the wrongs perpetrated by a judiciary that increasingly appears to be pursuing an anti-democratic agenda. Unfortunately, it took Congress 13 long years to act. That’s 13 years too late for the many thousands of federal whistleblowers who will go forgotten.

For more information, go to the Government Accountability Project.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedin

Leave a reply

Law Office of Eugene Lee
555 W 5th St, Ste 3100
Los Angeles, CA

Law Office of Eugene Lee
6 Centerpointe Dr, Ste 700
La Palma, CA 90623

T: (213) 992-3299
F: (213) 596-0487

Disclaimer: This website is an advertisement. The information and material contained in this website are for general informational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be used or relied on as such. Any liability that might arise from any use or reliance on the contents of this site is expressly disclaimed. Your use of such contents does not create an attorney-client relationship – only an express signed agreement can do that. The content of any communication you send to us via the Internet or through e-mail may not be considered confidential. Eugene D. Lee is licensed to practice law in the States of New York and California only.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. You are free to Share — to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work under the following conditions: 1. Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). 2. Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. 3. No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.