Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection

Bramnick Creed represents federal employees in all aspects of federal whistleblower protection law and disputes involving prohibited personnel practices. We serve as a strategic adviser and courtroom advocate for federal employees who are victims of retaliation following protected disclosures, and guide federal whistleblowers through the OSC complaint process and appeals to the MSPB.

The Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act protect federal employees who “blow the whistle” on illegal or other wrongful conduct in the federal government. These laws protect federal employees from retaliation when they report:

  • Violation of a law, rule, or regulation;
  • Gross mismanagement;
  • Gross waste of funds;
  • Abuse of authority; or
  • A substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.

Federal whistleblowers are protected from retaliation, such as removal, demotion, suspension, and other adverse personnel actions, as well as harassment. A whistleblower who has been retaliated against has the right to file a complaint in the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) or U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). A whistleblower may be entitled to obtain corrective action and an award of monetary damages.

You can find more information on the Whistleblower Protection Act and how it works in this article: The Whistleblower Protection Act: What it is and how it protects federal workers.

The attorneys of Bramnick Creed, LLC advise and advocate for federal whistleblowers at every stage of the process, from reporting illegal or wrongful conduct to opposing retaliation and fighting for the rights of federal whistleblowers.

Prohibited Personnel Practices

Federal law makes it illegal for agencies to take certain wrongful employment actions, known as “prohibited personnel practices.” Whistleblower retaliation is one of a number of prohibited personnel practices.

A personnel action may be considered prohibited if taken for one or more of the following improper reasons:

  • Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or political affiliation;
  • Solicitation or consideration of an employee’s performance, qualifications, or character that is not based on the employee’s records or personal knowledge;
  • Coercion of political activity;
  • Deception or willful obstruction of a person’s right to compete for employment;
  • Influencing a person to withdraw from competition for a position for the purpose of improving or harming the prospects of another candidate;
  • Granting a preference or advantage to an employee or applicant that is not authorized by law;
  • Appointing, employing, or advancing a relative in employment (nepotism);
  • Retaliating against a whistleblower;
  • Reprisal for protected activity;
  • Discrimination against an employee or applicant on a basis that is not related to the employee’s or applicant’s job performance;
  • Knowingly violating a veterans’ preference requirement;
  • Knowingly taking action or failing to take action in violation of statutory merit system principles;
  • Implementing or enforcing a nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement that does not contain required language informing the employee of the legal limits of the nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement;
  • Accessing an employee’s or applicant’s medical records for one of the above improper reasons.[1]

 

The law against prohibited personnel practices applies to a wide range of personnel actions, including:

  • An appointment;
  • A promotion;
  • Disciplinary or corrective action;
  • A detail, transfer, or reassignment;
  • A reinstatement;
  • A restoration;
  • A reemployment;
  • A performance evaluation;
  • A decision concerning pay, benefits, or awards, or concerning education or training if the education or training may reasonably be expected to lead to an appointment, promotion, performance evaluation, or other action described in this subparagraph;
  • A decision to order psychiatric testing or examination;
  • The implementation or enforcement of any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement; and
  • Any other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions.[2]

An employee who has been subjected to a prohibited personnel practice may have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to seek corrective action and monetary damages. The attorneys of Bramnick Creed are well-versed in the law of prohibited personnel practices and understand the OSC complaint process.

For more information about how Bramnick Creed assists federal employees facing whistleblower retaliation or other prohibited personnel practices, or for a consultation, contact Joe Creed at (301) 760-3344 or JCreed@BramnickCreed.com.

[1] 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b).

[2] 5 U.S.C. § 2302(a)(2)(A).