Whistleblower Protection

What are whistleblowers protected from?

Federal law prohibits governmental personnel from retaliating against an employee who acts as a whistleblower by reporting suspected waste, fraud or abuse to the OIG. Under the Federal law against prohibited personnel practices, agency officials may not “take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment” because the person has disclosed information which he or she reasonably believes is evidence of (1) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or (2) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, so long as the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law or Executive Order.

What is Whistleblower Retaliation?

Whistleblower Retaliation is personnel action in response to a protected disclosure of information and includes actions that could adversely affect the whistleblower such as:

  • A non-promotion
  • A disciplinary action
  • A detail, transfer or reassignment
  • An unfavorable performance evaluation
  • A decision concerning pay, benefits or awards
  • A significant change in duties, responsibilities or working conditions

What Types of Disclosures are Protected?

For your disclosure to be protected, you must have a reasonable, belief that the allegations are truthful. There are five types of protected disclosures:

  • A violation of law, rule, or regulation
  • Gross mismanagement
  • Gross waste of funds
  • A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
  • An abuse of authority

Where Can You Report a Whistleblower Complaint or Complaint of Whistleblower Retaliation?

Complaints can be made to the FTC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

The OSC is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency with the responsibility to receive, investigate, and prosecute allegations of whistleblower retaliation. Unlike the OIG, the OSC has  authority to seek corrective action from the FTC by filing a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to enforce corrective action for the whistleblower and initiate disciplinary action against the individual responsible for the retaliation. Corrective action might include ordering a promotion, cancelling a disciplinary action, payment of back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees. For more information on how OSC processes complaints, click here.