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Supreme Court rules on whistleblower testimony protection

When it comes to speaking out about possible violations in the workplace, federal employees in Minnesota and across the nation often fear that taking that step might harm their personal and professional life. Fear of retaliation is a legitimate concern to have when it comes to reporting a violation of federal law by an employer. In these matters, whistleblower protections are initiated and help ensure the employee is not harmed by speaking out about the information they have uncovered about their employer or superiors.

The justices of the Supreme Court recently made a unanimous ruling that public employees have a constitutional right to be protected from job retaliation when they are in court testifying about official corruption. Specifically, they ruled that the First Amendment provides this protection.

This ruling comes from a recent Supreme Court involving a former community college official who was fired after he testified at the trial of another for criminal fraud. Cases that involve agency misconduct, abuse of authorities and danger to public health are sometimes brought to the nation's highest court.

It was then established that his testimony was protected by the Constitution because he was in fact speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern even though some of the facts were learned through his time as an employee. This ruling allowed him to benefit from whistleblower protection rights.

Those dealing with job retaliation or other employment issues should understand what options they have to invoke their rights in the situation. Establishing whether whistleblower protection applies in the matter could significantly benefit the employee on a personal and professional level.

Source: WDIO, "High Court says whistleblower testimony protected," June 16, 2014

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