Washington, D.C. September 27, 2012 — The National Whistleblower Center and the No FEAR Coalition announce their support for the immediate passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) for federal employee whistleblowers. The decision to support the Senate version (S. 743) of the WPEA came after the Senate removed a final poison pill from the bill.
Last week, the Senate removed the controversial summary judgment provision from the WPEA. The provision would have given the Administrative Judges of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) the power to summarily dismiss whistleblower cases without a hearing. The NWC, No FEAR Coalition and other whistleblower groups argued that the summary judgment provision would be harmful to federal employees by radically increasing costs for whistleblowers, undermining their ability to reach settlements, and delaying final decisions. An NWC blog postingprovides a more thorough analysis of the dangers of the summary judgment provision.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, made the following statement:
The revised Senate bill (S. 743) is far from what federal employees were promised, but it is finally a step forward. Over the past two years, the NWC has vigorously campaigned for the elimination of all poison pills from the bill. The final poison pill was summary judgment, which has now been removed from the proposed legislation. We are highly encouraged that Congress has taken the first steps in providing fair and adequate protection for federal employees by fixing the definition of a whistleblower disclosure and enhancing the remedies available to employees who suffer retaliation. Unfortunately, even after this law is passed, federal employees will have a long road ahead of them before they reach parity with their brothers and sisters in the private sector. In the next Congress, the NWC will continue its campaign for full and effective protection for federal employee whistleblowers, including full court access, appellate rights and closure of the loopholes that silence hundred of thousands of employees working in national security agencies. The WPEA is a step in right direction, and we need to continue to move forward. The NWC urges Congress to immediately pass the WPEA when it returns to session.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, President of the No FEAR Coalition, stated the following:
The summary judgment provisions of Senate bill (S.743) would have seriously undermined the due process provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. To honor the sacrifice of the civil rights movement, the No FEAR Coalition, NWC, NET-We, and OccupyWashingtonDC organized demonstrations, calling for Congress to remove the summary judgment provisions of the WPEA. The MSPB has a long history of victimizing federal employees who seek justice by ruling nearly 97% in favor of federal agencies. Providing summary judgment authority to the MSPB would have been the death nail for any semblance of justice. The No FEAR Coalition calls upon Congress and the public to fight for more protections for victims of civil rights abuse and whistleblower retaliation. We also call upon Congress to hold hearings to determine if government agencies are in compliance with the No FEAR law and to pass No FEAR II in the next Congress. We urge civil rights and whistleblower groups to support the WPEA and to continue to struggle for a federal workplace where democratic and human rights principles will be honored.
For more information about the legislative history of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act please read the NWC’s position letter.