The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) protects federal employees from retaliation for disclosing government agencies' wrongdoings. Essentially, if a whistleblower knows they will not have to face retaliation, they're more likely to expose the people engaging in wrongful acts.
If you are a federal employee that has been punished for doing what is right by speaking up, or if you were punished because someone else spoke up, there are actions you can take. Federal employees are allowed to file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if they have been wrongfully retaliated against.
Filing a Complaint with the OSC
To file a complaint with the OSC, you should first confirm you meet the requirements as not every whistleblower case is protected by the WPA.
To file a complaint, you must:
First, be a current or former employee, or applicant for employment, in the government's executive branch. There are a few exceptions to this that include uniformed military, certain intelligence agencies, and the FBI.
Second, you must credibly claim that you made a protected disclosure (or someone else like a spouse, co-worker, or friend). A protected disclosure is when you or someone else raises a red flag to someone in a way that your boss becomes notified about it. The whistleblower must reasonably believe that the red flag is one of the following
- A violation of law, rule, or regulation;
- Gross mismanagement;
- Gross waste of funds;
- An abuse of authority; or
- A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
If you decide to proceed via the OSC, an examiner will consider your complaint and the OSC may seek corrective action from your agency and/or bring your case before the MSPB. However, the OSC also may decline to pursue the matter. If that happens, you'll have an option to continue to the MSPB without the OSC's help. This is called an "individual right of action" (IRA).
The OSC allows whistleblowers to file complaints without hiring a lawyer. However, by proceeding without a federal employment attorney, you put your rights at risk. A skilled lawyer can help guide you through the complicated OSC process while making sure there are no simple errors being made that might otherwise result in closing your case.
Call John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law today at (202) 759-7780 to speak to our caring federal employment attorneys.