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Proposed whistleblower law could protect federal employees

Dallas, Texas, is home to a large population of federal employees. While the majority of government operations run lawfully, it is not unheard of that a federal agency engages in wrongdoing. When federal employees learn of government abuses, most feel obligated to report the relevant information to the proper authorities. However, many would-be whistleblowers may not disclose what they know for fear of disciplinary action or dismissal.

To aid these workers, the U.S. Senate recently approved legislation known as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. This anticipated law would promote employee rights by protecting federal workers from retaliation if they disclose improprieties in government functions. The idea behind the proposed law is not new. For 12 years, the Senate has been passing similar legislation, only to have it fail at the House of Representatives or presidential level.

The newest form of this proposed law would provide for expansive whistleblower protections for many government workers. It would shield Transportation Security Administration and intelligence agency employees, prevent government agencies from revoking the security clearance of whistle-blowing employees and provide for jury trials for workers who sue for retaliation. In addition, the proposed legislation would temporarily curtail the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals' exclusive jurisdiction over whistleblower claims and assist the Office of Special Counsel to discipline government authorities who retaliate against workers who report abuses.

One of the only means for revealing government corruption is through the disclosures of whistleblowers. Although the bill is now through the Senate, the House must take action and approve its own version. If the bill makes its way out of Congress, the President will have ultimate say over whether it becomes law. Still, the Senate approval is a signal of hope for federal employees who may face difficult decisions regarding government abuses. Along with the help of an experienced employment attorney, federal employees who expose government wrongdoing could have an extra degree of security in the near future.

Source: The Washington Post, "Senate passes whistleblower protections -- again," Joe Davidson, May 9, 2012

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