Bush signs 9/11 bill, important whistleblower laws
Washington D.C. – August 3, 2007. Transportation employee-whistleblowers were among the big winners in the anti-terrorist legislation signed into law today by President George Bush. As part of the “The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,” Congress extended whistleblower protections to commercial truck drivers, railroad employees and public transit workers.
The whistleblower laws, contained in sections 1413, 1536, and 20109 of the Implementing Recommendations Act, broadly protect surface transportation employees who disclose safety violations, security threats and misuse of taxpayer funds. The laws also provide protection for transportation workers who testify before Congress or raise safety concerns to their managers. Whistleblowers who suffer illegal retaliation may obtain reinstatement, compensatory damages, attorney fees and up to $250,000.00 in punitive damages. Employees must file their initial claims with the Department of Labor, but can elect to have their claims tried before a jury of their peers.
“The whistleblower provisions of the 9/11 bill represent a significant advancement in the rights of employees in surface transportation industries. It is crucial that whistleblowers have access to jury trials and the ability to obtain damage awards when they have suffered retaliation from an employer. Now, it is up to Congress to pass a law that will protect all employees, in all sectors of our society, rather than using the current piecemeal approach,” stated National Whistleblowers Center President Stephen Kohn.
“Just as truck drivers and railroad workers who expose safety problems need protection, so do other honest employees who expose taxpayer rip-offs and safety threats. The whistleblower protections contained in the Implementing Recommendations Act should serve as a model for badly needed whistleblower reforms for other sectors of the economy,” Kohn added.
The whistleblower provisions of the bill were championed by both Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), a majority member of the committee.
- The Open Case Of Agent Turner
July 23, 2007, by Tad Vezner, Pioneer Press