Federal agencies are supposed to take seriously the job of protecting workers who strive to make things better by blowing the whistle on suspected wrongdoing. If a government employee in Texas or anywhere else takes the time and effort to reveal some shortcoming in the system, his or her managers are not supposed to retaliate against them by some sort of negative job action.
The Merit Systems Protection Board is there to see that worker rights are upheld. It serves as something of a judicial appeals board, providing a level of due process against employees suffering arbitrary or politically motivated abuse at the hands of higher ups. But that may beg the question, what happens if the whistleblower victim happens to be part of the MSPB?
As a recent story in The Washington Post shows, it can take require some special legal handling. But in the particular case described, it appears the integrity of the process was upheld and the beleaguered employee’s rights were protected.
It probably didn’t hurt that the employee in question was an MSPB attorney himself and known for being particularly outspoken. According to the story, he found himself threatened with suspension without pay after he revealed during a staff meeting that cases were beginning to back up and that processes were unnecessarily slow.
Essentially, he was a whistleblower to the agency assigned to protect whistleblowers. And when he exercised his right to appeal the threatened suspension, a judge from the U.S. Coast Guard got called in to avoid any conflicts of interest.
After hearing from both sides, the pinch-hitting judge ruled that the attorney’s bosses’; actions were harsh and retaliatory. And he suggested the matter might have been an unwarranted reaction by bosses to the attorney’s adversarial nature.
The thing is, attorneys experienced in dealing with government employee disputes and the MSPB know that sometimes an adversarial approach is needed. And even if it isn’t, an attorney’s skills and knowledge is still important for the full protection of worker rights.