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Government slowly moves to protect whistleblowers

Workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are most likely aware that in the past, whistleblowers were considered at best an annoyance by the federal government and rewarded through termination for bringing to light any wrong. However, the federal government's attitude has begun to change, particularly with the introduction of the whistleblower protection enhancement law.

Many agencies are now reaching out for clues regarding fraud and harassment inside and outside the government, despite having to dig through years of complaints and other paperwork. The federal government is now taking steps to rectify violations of the law both in and beyond the government workplace, as recently reported by the Minnesota Public Radio.

The Whistleblower Protection Act is a federal law laying out provisions that protect federal employees. The law provides that federal employees can now object to policy decisions without fear of being terminated. The law also instructs government agencies to appoint an overseer to help whistleblowers understand their rights and avoid retaliation.

Past complaints made by whistleblowers regarding agency misconduct have unearthed nepotism by high-ranking employees of the Justice Management Division. Other complaints include one made by a quality control manager at a drug store involving sloppy practices and gross mismanagement that led to the whistleblower's termination. The whistleblower and former employee was awarded a portion of a $96 million settlement after eight years of following the lawsuit.

The department advises whistleblowers to never report anything until they are able to secure the relevant proof of misconduct or fraudulent practices safely in their possession to avoid retaliation from management. If the proof is not properly secured, management may retaliate which can lead to the wrongful termination of the whistleblower. The department feels that a lot of suffering and pain could have been avoided if only the allegations made by whistleblowers had been taken seriously in the past.

Whistleblowers are now offered adequate protection under the state laws of Minnesota. The law provides that the rights of the whistleblower shall be guarded and whistleblowers can now report gross misconduct in an organization without the fear of termination.

Source: MPR News, "Government Slowly Changes Approach To Whistle-Blowers," Carrie Johnson, Feb. 18, 2013

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