The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is set to soon take up several bills designed to enhance whistleblower protections. The most wide-ranging, S-585, would require discipline of a supervisor who is found to have retaliated against a whistleblower, at least a 12-day suspension for a first violation and firing for a second violation. The supervisor would have an opportunity to present evidence before that action. Also, agencies would have to give priority to a request for a transfer on behalf of an employee who alleges retaliation, it would be an act of retaliation for an agency to access the employee’s medical records, and more training on whistleblower rights would be required for new employees and for supervisors, among other changes. Also, S-582 would enhance the investigative powers of the OSC; and S-576 would extend protections against retaliation to employees who refuse an order that would require them to violate a regulation, overturning a court ruling that said such protections apply only if the order would require them to violate a law.
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