When you work in the federal government, there is every likelihood that at some point in your career you will notice something that you believe is illegal or immoral. What do you do in this kind of scenario? Should you let it slide, pretend like you didn’t see it, and move on with your work? There is always the idea that someone else will notice it and say something. However, when you do witness illegal acts or abuses of authority, you may choose to report these acts. This is also known as “whistleblowing.” Although many government agencies encourage their employees to report wrongdoings, you may still fear that someone will retaliate against you or that other employees will become aggressive toward you. When this is the case, you should know the different rules and laws in place to protect whistleblowers if someone does retaliate.
Who do you blow the whistle to?
This can be confusing for some federal employees because there are typically different avenues to take when it comes to who you speak with and how you blow the whistle.
- A Supervisor or HR. Many people feel most comfortable speaking with someone in a more informal setting. While you still report any misconduct you’ve seen, it can feel like a more comfortable environment.
- The Inspector General. Another avenue for reporting what you saw is through submitting your disclosure to an Inspector General.
- The Office of Special Counsel (OSC). When someone retaliates against you for blowing the whistle, you can file your claim with the OSC to begin an investigation.
- MSPB. If there are any other appeals you need to file relating to your claim, you can file these with the MSPB.
What is the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act?
This act protects federal employees who have blown the whistle by prohibiting other federal employees from retaliating against the whistleblower or even threatening to retaliate against them. When you make a protected disclosure, others cannot deny you promotions, decrease your pay, or fire you because of this.
How do you prove retaliation?
To prove that someone retaliated against you, you must first show that you did make a protected disclosure regarding illegal acts or acts that you believe were a gross waste of government funds. After this, you must provide evidence showing that someone in the agency took an adverse action against you and that they knew about your whistleblowing. Finally, you must be able to show that they acted in this way as a direct result of your blowing the whistle. If your work performance was poor and your manager penalized you in some way, this is not the same as whistleblowing retaliation.
Do I need an attorney for my whistleblowing case?
When you blow the whistle in the government, you may not be sure of how other colleagues or government employees will react. Unfortunately, if someone is retaliating against you because you blew the whistle, you should seek the help of a federal employee attorney who can ensure you file the right paperwork and provide the appropriate evidence to show a link between your protected disclosure and their retaliation. For more information, please call a lawyer, like a whistleblower retaliation claim lawyer in Washington, DC from Eric Siegel Law, today.