The Whistleblower Protection Act, is an aptly named statute that Congress passed in 1989 that protects federal whistleblowers. What it says is that if you’re an employee or applicant within the federal government, and you raise an issue about government waste, fraud, or abuse, or a gross mismanagement of funds, anything that the statute covers, your employer can not turn around then and retaliate against you by, for example, firing you, demoting you, or not giving you a promotion. And the law provides a number of protections, such as, back pay if you are fired or don’t get a promotion, compensatory damages for emotional distress, and equitable relief such as putting you back in the job that your federal employer fired you from.
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.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