Public Citizen reports that yesterday was a historic victory for whistleblowers and for the nation. By an overwhelming margin, the House of Representatives voted 331 to 94 in favor of the “Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007.”
This major reform honors the many brave federal employees who have dared to stand up to government waste, fraud and abuse. As a result of enhanced protections for dedicated public servants who speak out, the government will operate more openly and honestly, and will better serve the public.
Blowing the whistle has been a very risky thing to do, as whistleblowers often suffer from serious retaliation, including being demoted or fired, for exposing wrongful conduct. Such retaliation sends a chilling message to all employees to keep quiet, no matter what. The Enhancement Act would change this by creating strong protections against retribution when federal servants report waste or corruption in the federal government.
Under this act, federal employees have the right to have their claims heard in federal court by a jury once administrative remedies are exhausted, affording them the same rights that federal employees have if they claim to have been discriminated against.
Furthermore, if federal employees disclose waste or abuse as part of their official duties, they would now be protected under the Enhancement Act. In a similar 2006 case involving a local government employee, Garcetti v. Ceballos, argued by Public Citizen’s Litigation Group before the Supreme Court the Court ruled that when a Los Angeles County prosecutor blew the whistle as part of his official duties, the First Amendment did not protect the employee from being punished.
We applaud all of those members of the House who voted in favor of H.R. 985. Along with our allies in the “Make It Safe” coalition, we urge the Senate to act quickly to pass a similar bill.