Bill Calling for Greater Protections for Whistleblowers Goes to President
A bill to clarify that the Whistleblower Protection Act, in fact, shield federal employees who disobey orders because they are illegal, was presented to the President last week after passing both houses of Congress.
Introduced by Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., the "Follow the Rules Act" (H.R. 657), corrects what lawmakers viewed as a misinterpretation by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of Rainey v. MSPB.
Specifically, the bill would provide protection to workers who speak up after refusing a manager’s direction to violate rules or regulations, reports The Washington Post.
According to Michael Kohn, a lawyer who is also a co-founder and president of the National Whistleblower Center and the author of two books on whistleblowing law, this law widens the scope of protected employees under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
“This recent bill was reversing an attempt by the federal circuit to cut back on the scope of protected activity, making it clear now that you can't be retaliated against if you refuse to obey an order from your boss or employer that would require the whistleblower to break a rule, law, or regulation,” Kohn said to Vice news. “So, prior to that, if you were instructed to violate and you refused to, then you would not have had protections. Now that the law has been amended to correct that oversight or misinterpretation, you would have that type of protection.”
Because whistleblowers have historically provided most all of the information congress needs to carry out its job, Congress knows it must protect them.
In a statement, Connolly said, “As a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I rely on whistleblowers to help us with our oversight and reform work. Without them, rooting out mismanagement, abuse and corruption would be very difficult.”
Posted in From the Hill