Whistleblowers play an invaluable role in the federal government. They serve as the taxpayer’s eyes, ears and voice. By calling out waste and fraud, they ensure that the government works for the people it’s meant to serve.
Many federal employees are motivated largely by their devotion to the public good. They show this devotion when they choose to work for their nation instead of working in more lucrative private sector jobs. Many also show it when they report agency abuses at their own risk.
As United States politics have become increasingly polarized, federal employees are getting caught in the crossfire. You might expect political backlash against political appointees. It’s hardly shocking that others see political ties between these employees and the officials who appointed them. But career employees are supposed to be safe from such political ties. Sadly, they’re not.
A 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office state it takes six months to one year to dismiss a federal employee. It states the “time and resource commitment” to remove poor performing employees “can be substantial.”
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has stated it expects nuclear power plants to operate in a "safety-conscious work environment" that allows employees to "raise safety concerns." An employee of one such power plant states she was illegally fired after she voiced safety concerns to management.
A naval academy professor was recently fired after students allegedly complained he acted inappropriately during class. The professor, who has taught as a civilian member of the facility for over three decades, challenged the federal agency’s personnel decision and took his appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the FBI claiming the agencies violated his constitutional rights. The claims stem back to the termination of his position last year. The agent states the FBI terminated his position in violation of his constitutionally protected right of free speech after he made negative comments about President Donald Trump.
Working for a government employer can provide wonderful opportunities as well as unique obstacles. Employees who believe they are treated unfairly by a government employer are familiar with these obstacles. This is because the process to hold a government employer accountable for such actions is much different than that used in the private sector.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released a memo pushing federal agencies to "strive for demanding metrics" when evaluating employees. The OPM states federal agencies should use demanding metrics to help properly reward outstanding workers.
A local government agency recently fired a 911 dispatcher for comments she made on social media. The federal employee made a comment on Facebook in response to the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. She states that due to this comment, her employer terminated her position as a dispatcher.