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Sept. 28, 2012

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Advances Through Congress

In Bipartisan Effort, House Passes Expanded Whistleblower Protections; Senate Should Follow Suit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Civil federal employees may not have to live in fear of blowing the whistle on wrongdoing in the workplace any longer if the U.S. Senate acts without delay. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) (S. 743 as amended) passed the U.S. House of Representatives today and, if enacted by the Senate, will provide federal employees with much-needed protections.

The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) was last revised in 1994, but shortcomings in the law remain. The new bill will provide federal employees corrective measures by:

•  Extending the law’s protection beyond the first person who discloses fraud and/or abuse;
• Overriding the U.S. Supreme Court decision Garcetti v. Ceballos, which held that public employees have no First Amendment protection for speech communicated as part of their job duties; and
• Providing economic damages for prevailing whistleblowers after an administrative hearing.

In addition to these important fixes, the bill will extend whistleblower rights to some 40,000 airport baggage screeners.

Public Citizen has been urging Congress to reform the WPA through an online media grassroots campaign with its partners in the Make it Safe Coalition.

“We call on the Senate to affirm its commitment to the American worker by passing the WPEA before leaving town to campaign,” said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “By giving federal workers more opportunity and resources to call out government waste and fraud, government will become more efficient.”

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