The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act (WPIA) on September 15, 2022. The vote on the bipartisan bill was 221-203. The bill is designed to expand whistleblower protections for federal employees, notably granting employees the right to federal court trials. In protecting employees with first-hand knowledge, this bill enables them to alert the nation to waste, fraud, and abuse by the federal government.
According to the whistleblowers’ advocate not associated with this firm, “the most important part of the bill targets the failure of Congress to permit federal employees to have their day in court. The bill would permit most federal employees to remove their cases to the federal district court for a real trial, if the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) does not issue a ruling on their whistleblower retaliation claims within 180 days.”
The bill was reintroduced on May 4, 2021, to address some holes in the Whistleblower Protection Act for federal employees and others. Some of these best-practices improvements have sat on the shelf for years. As always, the goal is to empower whistleblowers to exercise citizens’ responsibility to hold governments and those in power accountable, safeguarding taxpayers’ money, improving our federal programs, and protecting people’s lives.
What is in the bill
Notable details in the WPIA include:
- Prohibiting federal agencies from launching a counter investigation against the whistleblower
- More aggressively defining protections against federal interference (even from the president) in providing information to Congress
- Getting the ability to get temporary relief in a timely fashion
- New protections for non-career Senior Executive Service and Public Health Service employees
The bill now moves to the Senate. Despite the bipartisan origins of this bill, the WPIA faces opposition from many Republicans who believe that whistleblowers already have too many rights, and the bill would make it harder to dismiss incompetents and wrongdoers.
In the meantime, it is recommended that all whistleblowers get help from attorneys who specialize in defending clients brave enough to step forward and perform several other valuable services.
Watch this space for updates on the WPIA.