In today's political climate, federal workers in Minnesota and nationwide may have heard about recent reports regarding "gag orders" on those who work for federal agencies. However, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is the government entity tasked with enforcing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, has issued requirements that federal agencies ensure that their policies allow workers to "blow the whistle."
For federal workers, when it comes to being a whistleblower, it is important to understand that simply declaring yourself a whistleblower may not be enough to be afforded the legal protections available per the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. A violation of this act takes place if the federal agency retaliates against a worker because the employee disclosed that the federal agency broke the law, grossly mismanaged or wasted funds, abused its authority or presented a danger to the public that was both substantial and specific.
Therefore, if a worker believes that he or she should be afforded the legal protection from retaliation provided by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, he or she might want to consider contacting an attorney before taking any action. An attorney can help the worker evaluate his or her case, to determine whether he or she qualifies as a whistleblower.
Whistleblowers provide a valuable service in keeping federal agencies honest. However, blowing the whistle on unlawful activity can be an arduous process. Therefore, workers taking this road may want to make sure they do not travel it alone. An employment law attorney may be their best ally in such a situation, by providing legal advice and advocating for the worker's rights.
Source: FedSmith.com, "Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Whistleblower?," Ralph R. Smith, Jan. 26, 2017