Today, the National Whistleblowers Center and the No FEAR Coalition announced their support for the immediate passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) for federal employee whistleblowers. The decision to support the Senate version (S. 743) of the WPEA came after the Senate removed a final poison pill from the bill.
Last week, the Senate removed the controversial summary judgment provision from the WPEA. The provision would have given the Administrative Judges of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) the power to summarily dismiss whistleblower cases without a hearing. The NWC, No FEAR Coalition and other whistleblower groups argued that the summary judgment provision would be harmful to federal employees by radically increasing costs for whistleblowers, undermining their ability to reach settlements, and delaying final decisions. A prior blog posting provides a more thorough analysis of the dangers of the summary judgment provision.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, acknowledged that "the revised Senate bill (S. 743) is far from what federal employees were promised, but it is finally a step forward." He encouraged Congress to immediately pass the WPEA and promised that the NWC would continue working to improve protections for all federal employee whistleblowers.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, President of the No FEAR Coalition and member of the NWC Board of Directors, stated that the "summary judgment provisions of Senate bill (S.743) would have seriously undermined the due process provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act." Dr. Coleman-Adebayo explained, "The MSPB has a long history of victimizing federal employees who seek justice by ruling nearly 97% in favor of federal agencies" and that giving MSPS summary judgment "would have been the death nail for any semblance of justice." She urged civil rights and whistleblower groups to support the WPEA and continue working together to improve federal employee whistleblower protections.
For more information about the legislative history of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act please read the NWC’s position statement.