Supreme Court Undermines Public Employee Whistleblowing

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Supreme Court Undermines Public Employee Whistleblowing

5-4 Majority Strips Most Government Whistleblowers of Legal Protections

Washington, D.C. – May 30, 2006. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, stripped most government employees of their whistleblower protections.  The Court held that public employees may be “discipline(d)” for exposing official misconduct, taxpayer fraud or public safety violations if their whistleblowing is made “pursuant to their professional duties.”

“Almost every major credible whistleblower exposed wrongdoing as part of their ‘professional duties,’” stated Stephen M. Kohn, Chairman of National Whistleblowers Center. “That is the definition of whistleblowing. The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States,” Kohn Said. “The Court struck at the heart of whistleblowing: When an employee learns of corruption as part of his or her ‘official duties,’ and exposes the wrongdoing, five Supreme Court judges have granted permission to fire the honest public employee,” Kohn added.

As a result of the five member majority decision, a person who burns the American flag is protected from retaliation, but an honest public employee who exposes waste, fraud and corruption can be fired. The decision defies common sense,” Kohn said. Justice Kennedy authored both the decision protecting flag burning, and today’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos.

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