Protecting Federal Whistleblowers From Retaliation

If you discover that mismanagement or illegal behavior has occurred within your federal agency, it can be difficult to know what to do. Deciding to disclose wrongful conduct — "blowing the whistle" — is the ethical choice, but it can unfortunately lead to retaliation.

At Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, we understand that brave and ethical action can be risky. However, you can count on our federal-sector employment law attorneys to vigorously advocate for you and the justice you deserve.

Our lawyers advocate for individuals like you across the country and abroad who have suffered whistleblower retaliation such as:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Suspension
  • Demotion
  • Denial of training
  • Denied promotions
  • Harassment
  • Reassignment
  • Denial of awards

Creating A Strong Strategy On Your Behalf

It is often best to seek the advice of a lawyer before blowing the whistle. Because of restrictive court and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) rulings, providing protection for whistleblowers can be difficult and requires skill. Fortunately, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) of 2012, (which P&K founding principal Joseph Kaplan actively lobbied for with the National Employment Lawyers Association), provides greater protections for federal employees blowing the whistle.

P&K can help you develop a strategy to do the right thing without sacrificing your career. If you have already blown the whistle and are now facing workplace retaliation, you can rely on us to understand the law and protect your rights. Our lawyers are dedicated to using their extensive knowledge and insight to powerfully defend your rights at every level: at your agency, the Office of Special Counsel, the MSPB and in appropriate courts.

Is Your Disclosure Protected By Law?

Not all whistleblowing statements that a federal employee makes are protected. Why is this important? If your disclosure or statement is not protected, then your agency can legally retaliate against you. You may be demoted, suspended or fired, and you will have no legal recourse. A decision to speak with an experienced federal sector attorney before blowing the whistle is a wise one.

If your disclosure falls into one of several protected categories, however, the agency cannot legally retaliate against you. In general, you are protected if you "blow the whistle" on:

  • A violation of any law, rule or regulation
  • Gross mismanagement
  • Gross waste of funds
  • Abuse of authority
  • Substantial and specific danger to public health or safety

Do You Have An MSPB Case Or An OSC Case?

The nature of the reprisal against you for protected whistleblowing determines which procedures you must follow. If you have been fired, demoted or suspended for more than 14 days for whistleblowing, you can appeal directly to the MSPB. However, if the action against you is less severe (such as a shorter suspension, a reassignment, passing you over for a promotion or denying you an award or training), you must first file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Also, if you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement which allows you to file a grievance over retaliation for whistleblowing, filing that grievance will preclude you from later filing with the OSC or the MSPB.

If you guess wrong about which agency to turn to, your case may be thrown out. In addition, if you raise an issue before the MSPB that you did not raise before the OSC, your case will also be dismissed. Because this area of law is so complex, you need a highly experienced lawyer who knows how to navigate it successfully. You can find such attorneys at P&K.

Learn More From Our Experienced Lawyers

From our office in Washington, D.C., P&K has successfully handled high-profile whistleblower retaliation cases nationwide. We can help you, too. If you suspect that recent workplace problems are related to a disclosure you made, do not hesitate to contact us online or call 202-789-0100 or 800-881-0140.