News from the Whitehouse: President Obama today signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (“WPEA”). The text of the WPEA (which as a bill was labeled as S.743) can be found here.
Through the WPEA, Congress strengthened protections for federal whistleblowers in a number of respects. WPEA reverses the effects of prior decisions from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the Federal Circuit which narrowed whistleblower protections. WPEA expands whistleblower protection coverage to Transportation Security Agency (TSA) employees, provides for compensatory damages for whistleblower retaliation claims and expands the category of Independant Right of Action (IRA) claims which an employee can litigate directly at the MSPB. Gone are restrictions which did not provide protections to employees who blew the whistle in the scope of performing their duties. Finally, WPEA also strengthens the ability of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to seek discipline against managers who retaliate against whistleblowers or commit other Prohibited Personnel Practices. The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. previously analyzed the provisions of the WPEA in greater detail in the FedWeek Federal Legal Corner. WPEA comes into effect 30 days from today, except for the provisions extending whistleblower reprisal protections to TSA employees, which come into effect immediately.
Taken together, WPEA and the recent Presidential Policy Directive 19 significantly bolster protections for whistleblowers across the federal sector.
If you believe that you are being retaliated against because of protected whistleblowing, please feel free to contact Passman & Kaplan for an initial consultation.