An administrative judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) upheld the illegal termination of former federal air marshal Robert MacLean. Mr. MacLean blew the whistle on the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) plan to improperly remove U.S. air marshals from long distance flights during a heightened terrorist alert. The TSA subsequently fired Mr. MacLean in flagrant violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). To justify the decision to terminate Mr. MacLean, TSA retroactively labeled his disclosure as Sensitive Security Information. Ever since he was terminated, Mr. MacLean has been fighting for his reinstatement.Continue Reading...
One of the outcomes of the 9/11 Commission was that Congress passed two whistleblower protection laws for railroad and public transit employees in 2008. These are the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. § 20109, and the National Transit System Security Act (NTSSA). Both are part of Public Law 110-53, see § 1413 (NTSSA) and § 1521 (FRSA). Together, these laws assure the traveling public that if any of the carrier's employees see a safety or security concern, they can raise that concern knowing that they have legal protection against retaliation, . . . unless they are traveling by ferry.
This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a determination of an FRSA violation. OSHA's New York office did so in the most common of circumstances. It has expunged a suspension for an employee of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. (the so-called PATH trains between New Jersey and Manhattan). According to OSHA's press release, the employee, under a doctor's order, was absent from work while recovering from an injury. PATH management accused the employee of absenteeism, and issued a suspension. The worker filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA and OSHA has now concluded that this simple act of following a doctor's orders is a protected safety-related act.
"Railroad employees have the statutory right to report work-related injuries and to follow the orders or treatment plan of a treating physician," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Railroads who retaliate against employees for exercising their rights will be held accountable."
OSHA has ordered PATH to take corrective action, including expunging disciplinary actions and references to them from various records as well as compensating the worker for lost wages resulting from the suspension. The railroad also must post and provide its employees with information on their FRSA whistleblower rights. Either or both parties can object and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
WPRI is reporting on its web page that a recent federal indictment of three members of the North Providence town council arose from another council member blowing the whistle on them. Last Thursday, Town Council President Joseph Burchfield, Councilman Raymond Douglas and Councilman John Zambarano posted bond after declining to enter pleas in the extortion and bribery charges against them. WPRI has posted a copy of an affidavit by FBI Special Agent James D. Pitcavage which details how another member of the town council cooperated with the FBI to obtain recordings of the scheme in action.
WPRI also interviewed Robert Wegand, a former Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor. His cooperation with the FBI led to a prison term for former Pawtucket Mayor Brian Sarault. Weygand told WPRI, "The lion's share of the majority of the people say 'thank you, great job, we're really proud of you'. But, in politics particularly, there is an undercurrent, that you can see it in people's eyes. You can see it when you shake their hand, that it's not really very sincere. And you can see it in different things that occur. So, there's always that undercurrent that 'he was that snitch, he did another democrat in, that type of thing." In reflecting what is in store for the new whistleblower, Weygand explains, "There will be a very subtle alienation of him by other political people. They can't trust him. There are other people that will make him the hero, and talk about what a great job he did, and they will applaud him, rightfully so. But, there will always be, I think, as there's been with me and all the other whistle blowers that I talk to, there is that undercurrent from people who still don't believe that you were honest."