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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 12/11/2010

Senate passes whistleblower protection bill

By Joe Davidson
J.J. Evans

The Senate has passed enhanced protections for government employees and contractors who report cases of waste, fraud and abuse.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act was approved using the Senate's unanimous consent procedure late Friday. Whistleblower advocates have long pushed for legislation to strengthen the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act, which whistleblowers criticized as largely ineffective. The enhancement bill now moves to the House.

One significant section of the current legislation would allow jury trials, with certain limitations, for employees who take legal action against agencies for allegedly retaliating against workers who expose wrongdoing. This is a pilot provision, however, that would automatically expire in five years unless renewed.

"For the first time in history, the law will have structural reforms including normal access to appeals courts for whistleblowers and the right to a trial," said the Make It Safe Coalition, a group of organizations advocating the bill.

Under the 1989 law, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the only court permitted to hear appeals by whistleblowers in cases of retaliation against them.

"The Court has single-handedly gutted the WPA, leading to a 3-210 record against whistleblowers for decisions on the merits since October 1994," the coalition said.

Whistleblowers who prove retaliation either in court or through administrative channels would be eligible for compensation under the legislation.

Other provisions extend whistleblower protections to transportation security officers and intelligence community workers, allow government contractors to make classified whistleblowing reports to Congress and facilitate action by the Office of Special Counsel against those responsible for illegal retaliation against whistleblowers.

Whistleblower advocates were not able to persuade the Senate to include jury trials for CIA and other intelligence community whistleblowers who charge agencies with retaliation.

By Joe Davidson  | December 11, 2010; 12:04 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress, Workplace Issues  | Tags:  Senate, whistleblower bill, whistleblower protections, whistleblowers  
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So ok, this is great news for the whistleblowers. But what if these whistleblowers conjur up a trial that is found to be unsubstantiated in results and in finding of wrong-doing or conviction ? What then ? Do they still get to keep their job or promotion through an appeal ? Just asking. For with a 3-210 record, It just seems to me that it is possibly the fradulent, wastefull, and abusive use of the law itself that actually requires an improvement here. And this, is Washington at it's best, right? How ironic.

Posted by: jralger | December 11, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This really shows how the Appeals court is made up of a bunch of GOP political plants who wouldn't know justice if it slapped them in the face.

With a track record like that, clearly they are sell outs who are only doing their job for some Americans.

Frankly, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Nymous | December 11, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

In about 15 years, with massive and notorious thievery taking place in Iraq as just one not insignificant locale, this court has found that a total of 3 people had valid claims of retaliation and 210 just THOUGHT they were victims of retaliation.

And this is also despite the really dismal record of Scott Bloch, W's director of the Office of Special Counsel, convicted of criminal contempt, who notoriously threw away whistleblower complaints.

I'm convinced that everything is on the up-and-up.

Posted by: edallan | December 11, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Great news!
Now perhaps MORE Fox News whistleblowers will come forward.....

Posted by: angie12106 | December 12, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

The U.S. Court of Appeals - a wholely owned subsiduary of the GOP and corporate America. What a disgrace.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | December 12, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

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