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Top Congressional Democrats Introduce Legislation to Protect Federal Employees From Retaliation

Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, as well as Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus Rep. Jackie Speier introduced the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees.

Chairwoman Maloney and Chairman Connolly, along with Senator Patrick Leahy, also introduced the Federal Employee Access to Information Act to ensure that federal employees are able to use federal transparency laws without reprisal. 

“Whistleblowers risk their careers to expose wrongdoing and now, more than ever, it is important for Congress to strengthen the law to protect these heroes from retaliation,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “The Trump Administration has engaged in systematic attacks on whistleblowers for telling the truth and for holding this Administration accountable.  Congress and the American people need whistleblowers to expose what really is going on inside this Administration.  Today, I am introducing bills to protect the rights of federal employees who blow the whistle, including by providing information to Congress, and the right of federal employees to obtain publicly available information from the government without fear of retribution.”

 

“Sadly, federal whistleblowers have become a far too common target of the Trump Administration,” said Subcommittee Chair Connolly.  These brave heroes risk their reputations, careers, even personal safety, to hold those in power accountable.  This legislation will afford federal employees additional protections for simply doing the right thing and ensure those that retaliate against whistleblowers are held accountable.”

 

“All Americans, including federal employees, have the right to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and know what their government is doing,” said Senator Leahy.  “FOIA is a critical tool for exposing government wrongdoing, and federal employees should never be terminated or retaliated against for availing themselves of our nation’s premier transparency law.  I’m proud to be the Senate sponsor of the Federal Employee Access to Information Act, which would prohibit retaliation against federal employees for simply pursuing FOIA requests and exercising their right to know.”

 

“Since the earliest days of our country’s founding, we have relied on the courage of whistleblowers to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse,” said Rep. Speier.  “Now, more than ever, these truthtellers must know the law is on their side when they come forward, particularly in light of the doxing, stalking, and abuse so many whistleblowers have suffered at the hands of this Administration.  I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to ensure federal employees can come forward without fearing retaliation or retribution.”

The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act would clarify that no federal official may interfere with a federal employee’s ability to share information with Congress.  The bill would also limit disclosure of a whistleblower’s identity, prohibit retaliatory investigations, expand whistleblower protections to all noncareer appointees in the Senior Executive Service, and provide access to jury trials for whistleblowers. 

The Government Accountability Project, Project On Government Oversight (POGO), American Civil Liberties Union, Liberty Coalition, National Security Counselors, National Taxpayers Union, Public Citizen, Public Employees for Responsible Energy, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, and Whistleblowers of America endorsed this bill.

The Federal Employee Access to Information Act would protect federal employees from retaliation for filing Freedom of Information Act requests or Privacy Act requests.  These transparency laws are intended as tools for the public to obtain government information, and federal employees must be free to use the laws in the same way as any other member of the public.

Click here to read the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act.

Click here to read the Federal Employee Access to Information Act.

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