Whistleblower Law Blog

Senator Grassley Introduces Bill to Protect Congressional Whistleblowers

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 23:  Ranking member Sen...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced bill S. 586 titled the Congressional Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011, which would extend whistleblower protections to congressional employees. In a press release, Grassley stated:

Whistleblowers in the executive branch have helped me do my job of oversight. It’s simply not fair, nor is it good governance, for Congress to enact whistleblower protections on the other branches of government without giving its own employees the same consideration. This effort is about two things: making sure Congress practices what it preaches and making sure Congress values the importance of whistleblowers for increasing accountability in the representative branch of government.

While the bill limits these protections to employees of the Government Accountability Office and the Library of Congress, it is still a step in the right direction. The bill would protect employees who report

  • a violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
  • gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, and abuse of authority; or
  • a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

If an employer illegally retaliates against a whistleblower, remedies would include those listed under chapter 12 of title 5, which includes:

  • placing the individual in as nearly as possible the position the individual would have been in had the employer not retaliated against them;
  • back pay and benefits, medical costs, travel expenses, and any other reasonably foreseeable damages; and
  • attorneys fees and costs.

The bill follows two years worth of whistleblower legislation that extended protection to employees who speak the truth to authority from government contractors to corporations, to the financial services industry, to those in charge of our food supply.  Hopefully Congress will continue on its course and the future will bring further whistleblower protections for every congressional, executive, and judicial employee.


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