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Whom does the Whistleblower Protection Act cover?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2019 | Employment Law - Employees

In a perfect world, federal agencies with offices in West Virginia would always conduct themselves in a way that was responsible, lawful and beneficial to the general public. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect and those in power can become greedy and corrupt. When that happens, it is necessary to hold those in charge to account for their actions and inactions. That duty often falls to whistleblowers, who are ordinary employees that make the difficult decision to report wrongdoing by their employers. 

According to FindLaw, if you are a whistleblower, you may sometimes face retaliation from the superiors against whom you made the negative report. Although retaliation is illegal, the effects on your livelihood and future prospects can be devastating if it does occur. Nevertheless, the lawmakers realize the crucial service you, as a whistleblower, serve by reporting a superior’s wrongdoing. The Whistleblower Protection Act has been in effect since 1989 and protects you from retaliation from a federal employer.

The Whistleblower Protection Act specifically protects federal employees. It does not apply to the private sector. Furthermore, it does not extend to everyone who works or has ever worked for the federal government. Particular exemptions include postal service employees and members of the military. Also exempt are employees of federal contractors.

However, the Act does protect former federal employees as well as current ones as long as none of the exemptions apply. Even if you never actually worked as a government employee but applied for a federal position, the Act still affords you some protection if you witness and wish to report wrongdoing within the agency to which you applied for employment. 

If the Whistleblower Protection Act does not apply to your situation, whether because you are not a federal employee or your position is exempt, there are other state and federal laws in place to protect whistleblowers, one of which may provide the opportunity to seek legal recourse against your employer’s retaliation. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.


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