Federal employees and contractors often have a unique window into the inner workings of the government. As a result of that perspective, they are sometimes the first to stumble across ethical or legal violations. Federal whistleblowers play a critical role in holding government agencies and authorities accountable.
It is not uncommon for federal government supervisors who are the subject of an anonymous IG investigation to harbor ill will against the employees whom they believe blew the whistle on them. And we frequently encounter cases where federal employees believe they have been targeted by their supervisor because the supervisor believes that the employee complained about them to the IG when in fact the employee did not.
Qui tam claims filed under the False Claims Act allow certain employees and other interested parties to file suit against an entity that is defrauding the federal government. When qui tam claims are filed, they are filed on behalf of the federal government, even though the individual who has obtained evidence of fraud is acting practically as plaintiff. These kinds of lawsuits empower both individuals with knowledge of fraud and the government itself to hold fraudulent parties accountable and to recover compensation as a result of a successful suit.
A few weeks ago, an important whistleblower protection proposal was passed by the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). These protections are detailed in the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2014 fiscal year. This committee passage represents an important development in the area of workers' rights. For while many workers are protected by law when they seek to file whistleblower claims, intelligence workers have not consistently been granted access to this set of legal protections.
Under federal law, employees are protected from retaliation after filing a complaint alleging a violation.
Sentencing was delayed again for Scott Bloch, the former head of the federal whistleblower protection office. Bloch was removed from his post as special counsel at the United States Office of Special Counsel amid federal and congressional investigations into a coverup concerning employee discrimination lawsuits.
Last week, OSHA awarded a Connecticut man $75,000 plus attorneys fees last week, punishing his employer for retaliating against him after he reported a work-related injury.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is suffering some unwanted attention from the media these days pursuant to claims that he did not act upon fraud allegations outlined in a whistleblowing letter that his office received in October 2006 while he was the state's attorney general.
Ex-Lehman Brothers senior vice president Matthew Lee says it didn't take the company long to respond to a letter he sent to its finance chief and other executives in May 2008 detailing his concerns regarding balance sheet improprieties and other financial irregularities going on at the company. He claims the company engaged in whistleblower retaliation by summarily removing him from a meeting and firing him on the spot.