Protects Federal employees and applicants for employment who lawfully disclose information they reasonably believe evidences:
- a violation of law, rule, or regulation;
- gross mismanagement;
- a gross waste of funds;
- an abuse of authority;
- or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Under the WPA, certain federal employees may not take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take; any personnel action against an employee or applicant for employment because of the employee or applicant’s protected whistleblowing. See 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8).
Enhancement of Contractor from Reprisal (41 U.S.C. § 4712): The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA), enacted a pilot program making it illegal for an employee of a Federal contractor, subcontractor, grantee, or subgrantee to be discharged, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against for making a protected whistleblower disclosure. In 2016, Congress amended the program to make those protections permanent.
In 2012 Congress passed the WPEA into law to strengthen protections for Federal employees who report fraud, waste, and abuse. The WPEA clarifies the scope of protected disclosures and establishes that the disclosure does not lose protection because:
- the disclosure was made to someone, including a supervisor, who participated in the wrongdoing disclosed;
- the wrongdoing being reported has previously been disclosed;
- of the employee’s motive for reporting the wrongdoing;
- the disclosure was made while the employee was off duty;
- the disclosure was made during the employee’s normal course of duty, if the employee can show that the personnel action was taken in reprisal for the disclosure; or
- the amount of time which has passed since the occurrence of the events described in the disclosure.
The WPEA protects disclosures that an employee reasonably believes are evidence of censorship related to research, analysis, or technical information that causes, or will cause, a gross government waste or gross mismanagement, an abuse of authority, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or any violation of law. It expands the penalties imposed for violating whistleblower protections and establishes the position of Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman.
Pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, the CPSC established a coordinator to educate agency employees about prohibitions on retaliation for whistleblowing, as well as employees' rights and remedies if subjected to retaliation for making a protected disclosure.
The coordinator is prohibited by law from acting as a whistleblower's representative, agent, or advocate. The CPSC Whistleblower Coordinator can be contacted at Whistleblowerombudsman@cpsc.gov.
What is a whistleblower and how do I receive protections under federal whistleblowing laws?
A whistleblower is someone who discloses what they reasonably believe is illegal activity, fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or a threat to public safety. The disclosure must be made to a person with supervisory authority over the employee, the CPSC’s Inspector General, the Comptroller General, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a member of Congress, a state or federal regulatory or law enforcement agency, a court or grand jury, the Chairman or his representatives, or individuals responsible for the management of a contract or grant (e.g., contracting officer).
Am I really protected from retaliation?
You are protected from retaliation if you make a protected disclosure in the manner described above. The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act offer broad protection for whistleblowers against retaliation. The WPA has provisions for the following remedies if the Merit Systems Protection Board finds retaliation has occurred, including reinstatement to the whistleblower’s former job, attorney’s fees, back pay, medical costs incurred, travel expenses, and other reasonable damages.