Expanded Whistleblower Protections, Other Bills Set for Consideration

The House is scheduled to vote this week on several bills affecting employee rights under whistleblower protection law, among other issues. The bills are:

S-585, which already has passed the Senate, to require discipline of a supervisor who is found–by an administrative judge, the MSPB, the OSC, an adjudicating body provided under a union contract, a federal judge, or the agency IG–to have retaliated against a whistleblower, at least a three-day suspension for a first violation and firing for a second violation. The supervisor would have a right to notice and response–although only for 14 days before the action would take effect, rather than the standard 30–and would have regular MSPB appeal rights. 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 official to access the employee’s medical records following a disclosure, and more training on whistleblower rights would be required for new employees and for supervisors, among other provisions. The Senate also has passed similar language as part of its annual defense budget bill and in a separate bill (S-582).

HR-2196, to extend whistleblower protections to those who make disclosures to a supervisor in the employee’s direct chain of command up to and including the head of the employing agency, the Director of National Intelligence, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, or to an employee of those entities designated to receive such disclosures.

HR-2229, to permanently allow federal employees to appeal MSPB decisions against them to the federal appeals court for their area rather than only to the Federal Circuit court of appeals.

HR-378, to increase from $10,000 to $20,000 the maximum bonus an agency may pay to an employee for making a cost-saving recommendation, and to allow agencies to keep 10 percent of the savings for other uses.