The Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee will be holding a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 am on the whistleblower provisions in Protecting America’s Workers Act (H.R. 2067). These provisions apply to violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which cover approximately 60% of corporate whistleblower complaints. The proposed changes are designed to update workplace whistleblower protections by mirroring other modern whistleblower statutes, such as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It will provide stronger anti-retaliation protections for workers who blow the whistle on dangerous workplace conditions. Please visit the committee website for a list of witnesses and to watch the hearing online.
Alert observers may look for the nominees' responses to questions about the effectiveness of whistleblower remedies currently available through MSPB, how the nominees might use the power provided by 5 U.S.C. §1204(a)(3) to conduct studies on whether the protections are adequate, and how MSPB could apply 5 U.S.C. §1214(g) to provide remedies for federal employee whistleblowers. The nominees might also face questions about MSPB's standards for orders staying a reprisal in Individual Right of Action (IRA) cases under 5 U.S.C. §1221(c). The current MSPB regulation at 5 CFR §1209.10(b)(3) requires a showing of "substantial likelihood" whereas the standard under 5 CFR §1201.134(a) only requires a "reasonable grounds to believe" for requests made by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Finally, there might be some discussion of the pending Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), and how MSPB might respond to proposals made in various versions of that bill.