Back in August we discussed the Justice Department's decision to appoint a whistle-blower ombudsman to help ensure that whistle-blower violations in the government are well investigated, and now a bill is before President Barack Obama that would enhance whistle-blower protections further.
A whistle-blower is someone who reports the wrongdoing, fraud or illegal activity of an employer. While this act is generally protected by law, whistle-blowers are unfortunately often retaliated against or fired for making such reports here in Wisconsin and elsewhere. There are various legal protections in place for whistle-blowers who are mistreated or fired for reporting their employer's wrongdoing, but they can be difficult to navigate.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act has passed in the House and the Senate and is now on its way to President Obama's desk. The bill--which has been in the works for more than a decade--would improve protections for federal employees who report fraud, abuse or waste within their agencies.
The act provides some clarity to the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 by stating that whistle-blowers may report any censorship of technical or scientific information as well as waste, fraud and abuse.
It is important to note that these laws only apply to federal employees. State and private sector employees, however, may also have legal recourse after being mistreated for blowing the whistle. This area of law is quite complex, and whistle-blowers are often wise to seek legal counsel even before filing the complaint in order to prepare themselves for what may be to come. Those who have already reported an employer's wrongdoing and are experiencing retaliation may wish to talk to a whistle-blower attorney about their rights.
Source: FCW.com, "Whistleblower protection improvement passes Congress," Michael Hardy, Nov. 14, 2012
- Our law firm is experienced in many areas of whistle-blower laws. More information is available on our Milwaukee False Claims Act page.