Acclaimed American author Joseph Heller is synonymous with the widely known phrase “Catch-22.” Legions of people are not only familiar with its meaning, but see its applications play out in very personal terms in their lives.
Take the federal employment realm, for example, specifically a scenario where a worker gains knowledge of some act or pattern of corporate wrongdoing.
Such malfeasance can take many forms, as noted by one national legal source on federal employees’ workplace rights and safeguards. Here are but a few:
- Material mismanagement of funds and other resources
- Dereliction of managerial authority
- Various acts of fraud
- Public safety violations
An employee noting wrongdoing that defrauds the government and harms the public often confronts this classic Catch-22 challenge: A no-win result potentially attaches whether wrongdoing is reported or not. If not, a wrong continues unabated. And if reported, a whistleblower might – indeed, often does – face a retaliatory backlash.
One state’s legislature recently addressed that conundrum by passing a would-be law seeking to eliminate worker angst in coming forward. Its Senate bill specifically addressed that last-noted bullet point spotlighted above.
A national publication noting that legislation recently highlighted the legislation. It notes that the bill “creates a pro-employee presumption that if a worker is disciplined within 60 days of filing a workplace safety complaint that the action was taken in retaliation.”
Passage of such a law would obviously enhance confidence for any potential whistleblower, as well as broadly promote the public’s interest in matters concerning governmental administration and integrity.