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.