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When federal employees 'blow the whistle'

No federal employee should have to keep his or her mouth shut after viewing unlawful behavior at work. In fact, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act was created for the express purpose of protecting government workers who witnessed immoral, wrongful or illegal conduct at their jobs -- so that they can report it to authorities without fear of consequences.

Congress passed the act in 1989 to "strengthen and improve protection for the rights of federal employees, to prevent reprisals, and to help eliminate wrongdoing within the government." The act gives the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) the power to represent and protect whistleblowers. If you've witnessed wrongdoing, you can go directly to the OSC to report the following misconduct:

  • Any legal violations relating to laws, rules or regulations.
  • Any types of gross mismanagement.
  • The wasting of government funds and resources.
  • Abuses of authority by government employees and officials.
  • The endangerment of public safety and health.

The OSC doesn't directly investigate the above issues when they receive a report of wrongdoing. The OSC will instead contact the appropriate government agency with jurisdiction over the matter. That agency will then investigate the matter and report its findings to the OSC in 60 days.

If you have a matter to report to the Office of Special Counsel, you might want to investigate your legal rights and options before becoming a whistleblower. There may be some legal strategies you can use to make sure that you receive protection under federal law after you have reported the wrongdoing, unlawful behavior or abuses that you witnessed at your workplace.

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