Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report
Date: January 10, 2017
Federal Contracts Report, a Bloomberg BNA service that reports on federal procurement issues, interviewed TELG principal Scott Oswald about a new law that strengthens protections for whistleblowers who report fraud, waste, and abuse on projects for the U.S. government. The article also highlighted a related win for two TELG clients — a husband and wife who faced retaliation while working at a federal contractor.
“[Whistleblowers] can feel some sense of relief, knowing that these protections are enshrined.”
R. Scott Oswald
Contractor Whistle-Blower Reprisal Claims Set to Rise
A new law that extends the rights of government contractor whistle-blowers likely will increase the number of federal whistle-blower reprisal claims, lawyers on both sides of the issue said.
The law, which puts whistle-blower protections for civilian contractor and grantee employees on par with the rights of defense contractor workers, was signed by President Barack Obama in the wake of a significant, $2.2 million jury verdict in favor of a husband-and-wife pair of whistle-blowers who had worked for a Virginia-based technical services contractor.
The law makes permanent the pilot civilian whistle-blowing program that had been in place since 2013, and for the first time extended whistle-blower protections to sub-grantee workers, as well as personal services contractors for defense and civilian programs.
The publicity that accompanied the pilot program, in addition to the enhanced protections of the new law, could spur an increase in contractor employee whistle-blower claims, attorneys said.
“The rising trend of whistle-blower reprisal actions run by Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) swelled further in December 2016 when a new law caused the convergence of various whistle-blower protection regulatory regimes and made permanent a pilot program for civilian agencies,” David Robbins and Peter Eyre, government contracts practice group partners with Crowell & Moring, and Christine Hawes, a counsel in the firm’s labor and employment group, wrote recently in a column for Bloomberg BNA.
“As a result,” the Crowell team wrote, “government contractors and grant recipients are increasingly likely to face employment-related lawsuits in tandem with OIG-driven whistle-blower reprisal proceedings.”
(Full text available at Federal Contracts Report.)