The new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has reintroduced (HR-135) legislation that passed the House, but not the Senate, in the prior Congress designed to strengthen federal employees’ protections against discrimination and retaliation for whistleblowing.
Under the bill, agencies could not impose nondisclosure policies that restrict an employee from making disclosures of the sort protected by whistleblower law to Congress, the Office of Special Counsel, or an Office of Inspector General.
The bill also would require agencies to: track discrimination complaints through the EEO process, including any disciplinary action based on a finding of discrimination; report to the EEOC whether disciplinary action was taken against an employee who was found to have discriminated or retaliated against another employee; and include in employee personnel records any disciplinary actions against them for discrimination or retaliation.
Further, agencies would have to publicly reveal the details of any finding of discrimination or retaliation. Also, EEO offices would have to function independent of agency HR and GC offices and report directly to the agency head.
Cummings also reintroduced his prior proposal (HR-136) to extend many standard job protections for federal employees to interns working at federal agencies.