Whistleblower Protection Legislation Signed by President Obama

A vote late last month by the Senate cleared the way for final approval of legislation meant to strengthen legal protections for federal whistleblowers. Finally, this week, President Barack Obama signed S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, into law.

The measure has been pushed for more than a decade by advocates and is designed to protect employees who reveal government wrongdoing from any future retaliation by their supervisors. The new legislation will serve to overturn court decisions that have narrowed protections for government whistleblowers and protect groups of workers who, until now, were not previously covered by such laws. The new act will also grant the Office of Special Counsel the power to seek disciplinary action against any supervisors who attempt to retaliate against a whistleblower.

Many have hailed the new measure as a way of closing loopholes that worked to make federal employees feel unsafe about exposing government corruption. Though it goes a long way, it's not all that advocates were after. Some say that even with the new legislation, governmental protections for whistleblowers still pale in comparison to those for private workers. Two large pieces of the act were blocked by House Republicans; including jury trials to enforce the newly created provisions and an extension of such rights to national security workers. Thankfully, after Congress failed to include such a provision, President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive that specifically prohibited supervisors from retaliating against those national security and intelligence employees who expose waste, fraud and abuse.

Those who have backed the bill say that they now believe millions of federal employees will no longer need to live in fear of retaliation for standing up to misbehavior in the workplace. The hope is that by giving federal workers the chance and protection to speak out against corruption and fraud in their workplaces, the government will become more transparent and efficient.

Bill Giving Whistle-Blower Protections to Federal Employees Signed into Law by Judy Greenwald, published at BusinessInsurance.com on November 28, 2012.

Congress Approves Stronger Whistleblower Protections by Joe Davidson, published at WashingtonPost.com on November 13, 2012.

Senate Passes Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act by Laura Walter, published at EHSToday.com on November 14, 2012.

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