Legislation Hailed as Global Gold Standard for Whistleblower Rights

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) praised legislation introduced today by Representatives Ed Markey (D-Ma.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Ny.) to establish consistent, state-of-the-art whistleblower rights for federal government, corporate and military whistleblowers.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine explained “If enacted in this form, the Markey-Maloney bill will be the global gold standard for whistleblower rights. It would reestablish the United States as the pace setter for freedom of speech where it counts the most – challenging government or corporate bureaucratic abuses of power that betray the public trust.”

The Markey-Maloney proposal incorporates all the reforms of pending whistleblower legislation, strengthened by global best practices and lessons learned from the failed U.S. laws. GAP highlighted the legislation’s four cornerstones:

  • Reversing 12 years of hostile, activist rulings that turned the nation’s strongest free speech law into a trap that routinely rubber stamps retaliation. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, with monopoly power over the law’s interpretation, has ruled against whistleblowers in 119 out of the last 120 decisions on the merits.
  • Closing the loopholes in coverage so that whistleblowers are protected against all forms of reprisal, including when national security whistleblowers have their security clearances suspended or revoked. Currently, there are no due process procedures to challenge this form of retaliation.
  • Providing enforcement teeth through normal access to jury trials and a genuine day in court for government workers, the same rights provided to corporate whistleblowers in passage of Sarbanes-Oxley reforms in 2002
  • Creation of coherent and consistent free speech rights.

Devine commented on the last point, stating that “The Markey-Maloney bill would replace the current arbitrary quilt of contradictory whistleblower rights with a single, coherent set of free speech rules so that all employers and employees know where they stand. Currently only Great Britain and South Africa operate from that rational base.”

GAP has led public campaigns to pass, defend or monitor nearly all U.S. whistleblower laws, as well as breakthrough international reforms – including last year’s U.N. whistleblower policy adoption. Currently the group leads a wide campaign for congressional leaders to schedule votes on S. 494 and H.R. 1317, legislation to restructure and restore federal employee rights in the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. The reform has been unanimously approved in five House and Senate committee votes over the last three Congresses. However, at Justice Department urging, Senate and House leaders have refused to schedule an up or down vote.