On June 14, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Follow the Rules Act, an important extension of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).
The WPA is a law that protects federal government employees from retaliatory action for disclosing information about dishonest or illegal activities occurring within the federal government. A 2016 Federal Circuit decision interpreting the WPA, Rainey v. Merit Systems Protection Board, held that an employee who refuses to obey an order that would require him to violate a statute is protected from adverse action, but an employee who refuses to obey an order requiring him to violate a rule or regulation is not protected under the WPA.
What protections does the Follow the Rules Act add?
The Follow the Rules Act overturns the Rainey decision, and prohibits agencies from taking personnel actions against employees who refuse orders that would require the employee to violate a law, rule, or regulation.
In introducing the bill last year, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) gave the following example:
Congress directed the President to promulgate rules and regulations regarding sanctions against North Korea. Without the additional protections of the Follow the Rules Act, federal employees who were directed to violate North Korea sanctions would have no whistleblower protections under the WPA.
Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said of the bill, “we need to do all we can to ensure that federal employees are allowed to perform their jobs free from political pressure to violate laws, rules, and regulations.”
If you have been subjected to an adverse personnel action following a protected disclosure regarding illegal or improper activity, contact us today. We offer results-driven legal services to federal employees around the world.