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Are disclosures to an Inspector General protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act?

The Whistleblower Protection Act protects cooperating with or disclosing information to an agency IG or OSC (5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(9)(C)). Section 2302(b)(9)(C) covers disclosures made to an IG or OSC that do not meet the precise terms of a protected disclosure under Section 2302(b)(8).

For example, in Special Counsel v. Nielson, a temporary employee cooperated with an agency IG investigation of his supervisor. The supervisor then issued the employee a lower performance rating in a manner that violated the agency’s policies on conducting performance reviews. The employee complained to the agency’s personnel office about the way his performance review was conducted and the supervisor terminated him. The MSPB held that the employee engaged in protected activity under Section 2302(b)(9)(C) when he cooperated with the IG’s investigation and announced his intent to complain to the personnel office. (71 M.S.P.R. 161, 169-70 (1996).)

In another case, the Board construed Section 2302(b)(9) to protect an individual who drafted a letter to OSC alleging abuse of authority and mismanagement but had not yet sent the letter (Special Counsel v. Harvey, 28 M.S.P.R. 595, 604 (1984), rev’d on other grounds, 802 F.2d 537, 547 (D.C. Cir. 1986).)

Guide to the Whistleblower Protection Act

Whistleblower attorneys Eric Bachman and Jason Zuckerman, former senior officials at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, have released a guide for federal employee whistleblowers titled The Whistleblower Protection Act: Empowering Federal Employees to Root Out Waste, Fraud and Abuse and is available for download by clicking here. whistleblower protection act The goal of the guide is to inform federal employees about the whistleblower rights and protections available under the Whistleblower Protection Act, as amended by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and the Follow the Rules Act.

Drawing on their experience enforcing the WPA at OSC and representing whistleblowers in private practice,  the guide provides an overview of the WPA and offers practical tips for navigating some of the challenging issues that often arise in whistleblower cases.  Topics covered include:

  • What Disclosures are Protected Under the Whistleblower Protection Act?
  • Does the Whistleblower Protection Act Protect Employees Who Exercise an Appeal or Grievance Right?
  • Prohibited Forms of Whistleblower Retaliation
  • Proving Knowledge of Protected Whistleblowing
  • Proving Causation
  • What is an Agency’s Burden to Avoid Liability Once the Whistleblower Has Proved Causation?
  • Seeking Relief from Retaliation
  • Election of Remedies
  • Can OSC Seek a Stay of a Personnel Action?
  • Damages or Remedies for Retaliation
  • Gag Orders and Non-Disclosure Agreements

Experienced Washington DC Whistleblower Protection Act Lawyers

best sexual harassment attorneys Washington DC Maryland VirginiaZuckerman Law has represented whistleblowers before the Office of Special Counsel, Offices of Inspectors General, and Congressional oversight committees.  The firm is uniquely qualified to represent whistleblowers in the federal government because two of the firm’s attorneys served in senior roles at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

  • Eric Bachman served as Deputy Special Counsel, Litigation and Legal Affairs, OSC, where he spearheaded an initiative to combat whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  During Bachman’s tenure at OSC, the number of favorable actions for whistleblowers increased by over 50% agency-wide.
  • Jason Zuckerman served as Senior Legal Advisor to the Special Counsel at OSC, where he worked on implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and several high-profile investigations.

The firm has represented whistleblowers testifying before the House Financial Services Committee and vigorously opposed efforts to silence whistleblowers.  The whistleblower protection lawyers at Zuckerman Law have also helped federal employees combat unlawful gag provisions in agency politicies or agreements.

If you are seeking representation in a whistleblower protection case, click here, or call us at (202) 769-1681 to schedule a free preliminary consultation. And to learn more about whistleblower protections for federal employees, see Whistleblower Protections Under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.