Existing laws are failing to protect federal employee whistleblowers against reprisals and to protect employees against discrimination, according to a Senate report on a bill (HR-135) to strengthen the law in both areas.
“Additional measures to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers and discrimination against federal employees are needed to protect federal employees who report wrongdoing or illegality within the federal government or experience discrimination in the workplace,” says the report, citing statistics on the numbers of employees who file complaints on those matters before the Office of Special Counsel and through the EEO process.
The bill would:
Assure that agency EEO offices are independent of agency general counsel or human resources offices;
Require agencies to better track discrimination and retaliation complaints and to post on their websites any findings against them, including through public reporting on agency websites;
Better notify employees of their rights and protections;
Prohibit agencies from imposing nondisclosure agreements that would limit an employee’s ability to disclose certain information to OSC, the Office of Inspector General, or Congress; and
Express the sense of Congress that agencies should take disciplinary action against employees who have been found to have committed discriminatory or retaliatory acts.
See also, Report Slams VA Whistleblower Office
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill late last month, readying it for a Senate floor vote. It cleared the House early last year.
A federal employee or applicant for employment engages in whistleblowing when the individual discloses to the Special Counsel or an Inspector General or comparable agency official (or to others, except when disclosure is barred by law or by executive order to avoid harm to the national defense or foreign affairs) information which the individual reasonably believes evidences the following types of wrongdoing:
-a violation of law, rule, or regulation;
-a gross waste of funds;
-an abuse of authority; or
-a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
From: Appeals and Procedures at ask.FEDweek.com