News from Congress: Congress has increased protections for federal employee whistleblowers. On November 13, 2012, the Senate passed S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (“WPEA”) by unanimous consent. The Senate action accepted revisions to WPEA to match the version of the bill passed in the House of Representatives in September 2012. The bill has now been forwarded to President Obama for his signature.
Through the WPEA, Congress seeks to strengthen protections for federal whistleblowers in a number of respects. WPEA reverses the effects of prior decisions from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the Federal Circuit which narrowed whistleblower protections. WPEA expands whistleblower protection coverage to TSA employees, provides for compensatory damages for whistleblower retaliation claims and expands the category of Independant Right of Action (IRA) claims which an employee can litigate directly at the MSPB. Gone are restrictions which did not provide protections to employees who blew the whistle in the scope of performing their duties. Finally, WPEA also strengthens the ability of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to seek discipline against managers who retaliate against whistleblowers or commit other Prohibited Personnel Practices. The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. previously analyzed the provisions of the House version of WPEA–the version now passed by the Senate–in greater detail in the FedWeek Federal Legal Corner.
Taken together, WPEA and the recent Presidential Policy Directive 19 significantly bolster protections for whistleblowers across the federal sector.
If you believe that you are being retaliated against because of protected whistleblowing, please feel free to contact Passman & Kaplan for an initial consultation.