Federal Employee Whistleblowers

Regardless of where you work, if your job involves the federal government, either as a contractor or as a federal employee, a series of whistleblower laws protect you. This is especially relevant if you work in Washington, D.C. or in the surrounding areas, including Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, Reston, and Loudoun County, as so much of the federal infrastructure is based here in Virginia.

The 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, 5. U.S.C. § 2302, grants whistleblower protection to many types of federal government employees and applicants for employment. In particular, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees or applicants who (1) complained that a rule, law, or regulation has been violated; (2) complained of gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a “substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;” or (3) reported to the Special Counsel or Inspector General of such a legal violation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or substantial dangers to health or safety.

The 2012 Whistle Blower Protection Enhancement Act, Pub. L. No. 1120-199 (“WPEA”) adds to the protections available under the Civil Service Reform Act in that disclosures can no longer be excluded from protections because: (1) the disclosure was made to a supervisor or person participating in the legal violation, gross mismanagement, gross waste, abuse of authority or substantial danger to health or safety; (2) the disclosure revealed information that had already been disclosed; (3) the employee had an improper motive for making the disclosure; (4) the disclosure was made while the employee was off duty; (5) too much time passed since the occurrence of the events described in the disclosure.

The WPEA also requires the Inspector General for each agency to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman who will explain to employees the process for submitting retaliation claims with the Office of Special Counsel and process for filing disclosures.

Further, the WPEA provides for greater remedies. Federal whistleblowers may now pursue compensatory damages in addition to the reversal of adverse personnel actions. Please note that the WPEA provides that its whistleblower protections supersede agency non-disclosure agreements and that all such agreements signed after the WPEA went into affect must advise employees of this exception.

If you have been adversely affected in your job for being a “whistleblower” or have evidence of an employer’s fraud and plan to disclose it, the Erlich Law Office can help you. For a free consultation, please contact us at (703) 791-9087 or visit our web site at www.erlichlawoffice.com.