Presidential Directive Expands Whistleblower Protections

President Obama has issued an administrative directive that will, for the first time, provide protection to intelligence agency employees for whistleblowing. Generally, federal employees have a legal right to "blow the whistle" on their employers or governmental agencies when employees are aware of wrongdoing. Most federal employees are protected from retaliation for blowing the whistle under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act.

A new bill, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, has been making its way through Congress to expand whistleblower protections to workers. The bill includes several provisions offering more protections for federal employees who report waste or fraud. But intelligence employees are not currently included in that bill because of fear that national security could be compromised if confidential information is revealed in whistleblower disclosures.

The Presidential Policy Directive

President Obama's directive, Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information, extends whistleblower protections to national security and intelligence employees. The directive prohibits government agencies from retaliating against intelligence employees who report fraud, abuse and waste. The key points of the directive:

  • Prohibit government agencies from retaliating against intelligence employees for reporting waste, abuse and fraud.
  • Prohibit retaliatory actions such as demoting an employee's security clearance and access to classified information
  • Direct the CIA and other intelligence agencies to implement appeal procedures for retaliation claims
  • Provide significant remedies where retaliation is validated, including reinstatement, back pay, attorney's fees and compensatory damages

While the directive is a step in the right direction for intelligence employees, it is still not the law. The due process rights of intelligence employees will only fully be protected when a law is passed by Congress.

Retaliated Against For Blowing the Whistle?

Federal employees that suspect wrongdoing by their employers have the right to report that wrongdoing free from retaliation. If you have blown the whistle on an illegal activity in your agency, you are protected under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act. Types of illegal activities that warrant reporting include

  • Fraud
  • Gross waste of governmental or agency funds
  • Abuse of authority
  • Public safety violations
  • Violations of the law

Your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you with any adverse employment actions for whistleblowing. Adverse employment actions include termination, loss of pay, loss of benefits, and demotions. If you have reported your agency and are now facing adverse employment actions, contact an experienced federal employee attorney to learn your rights.