Julia Davis, the Homeland Security writer for the Los Angeles Examiner, released an article yesterday calling for action today to "protect whistleblowers, so that they may continue protecting our nation." The article is called, "The House cooks up another turkey of a bill, guts whistleblower protections." Davis laments that, "Instead of improving an already deeply flawed Senate bill that was introduced earlier this year, the House slashed even more whistleblower protections." She decries the elimination of jury trials, the addition of summary judgment, and the shenanigans in picking which court will hear appeals. She joins with the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) in urging all Americans to take action today to ask Congress to fix this bill. She also made this graphic to express the distress of whistleblowers over the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). Thank you.
Today, leaders in the House of Representatives introduced a bill (H.R. 3289) to amend the Whistleblower Protection Act. Their new bill would strip federal employee whistleblowers of court access.
The House version of the bill further erodes federal employee whistleblower protections from an already weakened Senate bill that was introduced earlier this year. The amendments would:
- Cut out the right to a jury trial for federal employees.
- Empower the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to summarily dismiss whistleblower cases.
- Block whistleblowers from access to more "liberal" U.S. Courts of Appeal (such as the 9th Circuit). Instead, the government would be able to force their cases into a special court.
The bill was introduced today in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
A number of prominent civil rights groups have signed a letter to Congress demanding immediate changes to the legislation. Their requests include ensuring full appeals court access for federal workers and blocking the ability of the MSPB to summarily throw out whistleblower claims.
The National Whistleblowers Center issued the following statement:
We are particularly troubled by the judicial gerrymandering precedent that would be set by this bill. Unlike its Senate counterpart, the House bill completely chokes off access to normal court review and bypasses more "liberal" courts of appeal, such as the 9th Circuit.
In the past two Congresses, the House endorsed full court access for federal employees by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities. This precedent has been abandoned. For the fist time, the House is endorsing a bill that will strip federal employee whistleblowers from all access to jury trials under the Whistleblower Protection Act. This setback for employee rights must be fixed.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform plans to hold a markup of the bill on Thursday, November 3, 2011.
The NWC has issued an Action Alert calling on all Americans to ask their Representative to fix the bill.
Employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will rally today to speak out against retaliation for filing discrimination complaints. In July, the American Federation of Government (AFGE) Employees Council of Prison Locals called on Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States Congress in July to hold Bureau of Prisons (BOP) leadership accountable for failure to make changes to the climate of retaliation and discrimination that’s running rampant in the federal prison system.
“Not only do correctional workers face life threatening situations on a daily basis, but they are facing retaliation from managers” if they complain about retaliation and discrimination by their bosses, said Michael Castelle, Sr., National Fair Practices Coordinator for the AFGE Council of Prison Locals. They also face unsafe correctional officer-to-inmate ratios created by years of agency underfunding. And they face retaliation from managers should they choose to file an EEO complaint in the system. “That’s the one that really stings,” says AFGE, which wants to stop management's “cavalier attitude” toward the well-being of their employees. “A little accountability would be nice.”
The AFGE rally is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. this morning at the Department of Justice headquarters at 9th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W., in Washington, DC. Thank you to Chris Garlock of the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO Council for announcing this rally in today's Union City (and for sharing this photo).