Late last night, the U.S. Senate finally got the job done, unanimously passing S.274, the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act. This law, along with its companion house legislation (H.R.985), if preserved in conference, would go a long way towards protecting every single federal whistleblower and federal government contractor from retaliation when they report illegal activity to their supervisor. This legislation will effectively overturn the terrible Supreme Court Decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, which held that government employees are not protected by the First Amendment when they report concerns at work.
More on this issue to come…
Below is the text of today’s National Whistleblower Center Press release:
Washington, DC., December 18, 2007. Last evening the U.S. Senate, by unanimous consent, passed the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act (S.274). This law enhances the protection for federal employee whistleblowers by expanding the scope of protected activity to cover complaints within an employees chain of command.
Passage of S.274 now sets the stage for a conference between the House and Senate to agree final legislative language. On March 14, 2007 the House enacted the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 985), which expanded the scope of whistleblower protections to national security related agencies, permitted employees to obtain jury trials in federal court, provided enhanced protections for federal contractors and protected employees who exposed misconduct to their managers.
“The House and Senate whistleblower protections laws complement each other. They need to be melded together in conference and immediately enacted into law. Only by combining the best of both bills will federal employees obtain realistic protection. Until then, the taxpayers and citizens will remain the losers in this debate, as billions of dollars in waste remains unreported and government officials who violate the law and mislead the American people escape accountability,” said Stephen M. Kohn, the President of the National Whistleblower Center.
“The Senate Action now sets the stage for the final passage of what will be one of the most important laws enacted by this Congress,” added Kohn.
The House and Senate bills were strongly endorsed by a broad coalition of public groups, including the National Whistleblower Center, the Project on Government Oversight, the Government Accountability Project and Taxpayers Against Fraud, the No Fear Coalition, the Make it Safe Coalition, the Liberty Coalition, and the Bill of Rights Foundation, among numerous others.