MSPB Fails to Protect Robert MacLean

An administrative judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) upheld the illegal termination of former federal air marshal Robert MacLean. Mr. MacLean blew the whistle on the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) plan to improperly remove U.S. air marshals from long distance flights during a heightened terrorist alert. The TSA subsequently fired Mr. MacLean in flagrant violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). To justify the decision to terminate Mr. MacLean, TSA retroactively labeled his disclosure as Sensitive Security Information. Ever since he was terminated, Mr. MacLean has been fighting for his reinstatement.

Administrative judge Franklin Kang issued the decision. In 2007, Judge Kang ruled in favor of federal employees ZERO times in 71 cases. In 2008, federal employees prevailed ZERO times out of 68 cases. (Thank you to Charlotte Yee and the Project on government Oversight for sharing this information.)


This deplorable decision only further highlights the need for full court access for all federal employees, especially those who risk their careers to protect our safety and national security. As we have written before, the MSPB has consistently failed to protect federal employee whistleblowers, and Robert MacLean is one of many who have gone before the MSPB seeking justice, but come up empty handed.

There is legislation pending in Congress that can change this system. The House version of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 1507) contains provisions that would grant federal employees access to federal court and jury trials.


Robert MacLean will appeal the administrative judge’s ruling, and continue his fight for reinstatement and justice. We hope he prevails. We also hope the law will change so that national security whistleblowers will have access to the same customary justice that car accident victims have – jury trials.


To take action now and send a letter of support for Robert MacLean & H.R. 1507, click here.


*Meryl Grenadier (NWC Fellow) drafted this post.

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