- Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012
Passed in response to the Merit Systems Protection Board’s misguided interpretations of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act strengthened the protections available to federal employee whistleblowers. The law aims to protect federal employees who blow the whistle where the MSPB had failed previously. It broadens the remedies for victims of retaliation and strengthens the powers of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is tasked with enforcement. The new law made clear that disclosures do not lose their protected status because, for example, they are made to the violator of law or that the information had previously been revealed. The WPEA clarified the WPA and better protects whistleblowers.
- The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007
The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act included the NTSSA and also significantly broadened the rights, remedies, and procedures for whistleblowers by amending the Federal Railroad Safety Act and the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. It brought the statute in line with other DOL-administered statutes. This far-reaching Act was implemented, as its name suggests, in response to safety concerns stemming form the attacks on September 11, 2001. Generally, each of these Acts protects whistleblowers who raise safety concerns related to various forms of transportation.
- Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 expanded protected activity for rail transportation whistleblowers provided in the Federal Railroad Safety Act to include requests for medical attention and prohibits a railroad carrier from disciplining an employee for requesting medical or first aid treatment or for following a doctor’s orders.
- Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002
The No FEAR Act, considered the first civil rights legislation of the 21st century, requires Federal agencies to pay into the Judgment Fund for payments made to employees as a result of civil rights violations; provide annual notice to employees about rights and remedies applicable for discrimination and whistleblower protection; provide biannual training to employees for discrimination and whistleblower rights; submit an annual report indicating efforts to improve compliance with discrimination and whistleblower protection laws; and post quarterly summary statistical data to its public website pertaining to EEO complaints in the agency. These heightened requirements were meant to reinforce the importance of civil rights laws applicable to federal employees. The law does not, however, provide any additional private right of action for discrimination or whistleblower laws. Instead, it is meant as a support to those laws.
- Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act
The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act requires all contractors—prime and sub—to pay laborers and mechanics performing on a federal service contract and federal and federally assisted construction contract over $100,000 1.5 times their basic rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Employers are liable to employees for these unpaid wages. The failure of a contractor to comply with this Act may also result in liability under the False Claims Act.
- Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
The Civil Service Reform Act was passed in reaction to a belief that too many civil service employees were employed but could not be removed despite their incompetence or misconduct. The previously existing disciplinary system was complex and outdated in a patchwork. The CSRA rewrote, revised, and simplified the myriad statutes governing civil service. The goal was a more efficient system and civil service. It also sought to provide new protections for employees disclosing illegal or improper government conduct. The Reform Act established the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Personnel Management.
- Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009
Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act of 2009 (S.386) was enacted curb fraud in the financial services industry and strengthen the False Claims Act (FCA), a statute that was originally enacted in 1863 to deter fraud against the government. Under the qui tam provision of the FCA, a whistleblower can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government and is eligible to receive 15% to 30% of the government’s recovery. Whistleblower disclosures under the FCA have led to the recovery of more than $14 billion in fraud.
- Federal Acquisitions Streamlining Act
The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act contains major reforms intended to streamline the government’s acquisition system. FASA states a preference for using commercial “off-the-shelf” items whenever possible. Section 6005 of the FASA created new whistleblower protections for employees of government contractors similar to those contained in the Whistleblower Protection Act, which applies to federal employees.
- Energy Policy Act of 2005
Best known for changing day light savings time, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 also contains three amendments to the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (“ERA”). The first amendment, contained in Section 627 prohibits the Department of Energy from reimbursing a contractor or subcontractor for legal fees incurred subsequent to an ALJ finding against the contractor or subcontractor on the merits, unless the ALJ’s determination is reversed on appeal. This amendment applies to contracts entered into after the date of enactment.
The second and third amendments, contained in Section 629, extend liability under the ERA whistleblower provision to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, contractors or subcontractors of the Commission, and the Department of Energy. They also permit complainants to remove ERA whistleblower cases from the Department of Labor to federal district court after a case has been pending for one year. The removal is similar to the process utilized under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
- EEO Act of 1972
The EEO Act of 1972 was Congress’s fourth attempt to improve Title VII’s effectiveness since its enactment in 1972. This amendment made the following changes to Title VII: gave the EEOC litigation authority, made educational institutions subject to Title VII; removed state and local governments from being exempt from Title VII; made the federal government subject to Title VII; increased the number of employers covered by Title VII by reducing the number of employees (from 25 to 15) needed for an employer to be covered by Title VII; extended the time in which complainants had to file their initial complaint (from 90 or 120 days to 180 or 300 days).
- NRC Appropriations Act for Fiscal 1979
This law provided funding for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It also contained whistleblower protections for employees of the organizations licensed by the NRC, as well as contractors and subcontractors who made various reports about safety concerns in the nuclear energy industry.
- FLSA – Portal to Portal Act
As an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Congress passed the Portal to Portal Act of 1947 in order to, among other things, clarify the type of work time for which an employee should be paid. Generally, the Portal to Portal Act provides that as long as an employee is engaging in activities that are designed to benefit the employer, he or she should be paid for her services regardless of where that work is performed.
- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that outlawed major forms of discrimination based on, among other things, gender. In most cases, claims under Title VII have a 180 day statute of limitations. This means that individual claiming discrimination under Title VII have only 180 days to file a claim. This had a very detrimental effect on employees who wanted to bring claims for unequal pay. Essentially, the Supreme Court interpreted this statute of limitations to mean that an employee – typically a female – could not bring a claim for unequal pay if the initial decision about the unequal pay (usually at the time of hire) occurred more than 180 days earlier.
The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amended Title VII so that the statute of limitations begins at the date of the most recent paycheck and not at the time the employee was initially hired.
- Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007
Signed into law in May 2007 by President George W. Bush, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 amended the FLSA to increase the national minimum wage. The Fair Minimum Wage Act was designed to incrementally increase the minimum wage from $5.85 to $7.25 per hour by July 24, 2009. The minimum wage has remained at that level ever since, though, importantly, some states have laws setting the minimum wage at a higher rate.
- Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1961
In 1961, Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to expand coverage to those employees working for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and governmental entities. The amendment also expanded the FLSA’s scope by adopting so-called “enterprise coverage.” Under the amendment, employees working for businesses that are involved in interstate commerce and gross more than $500,000 per year are covered by its minimum wage laws.
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976
RCRA is the primary law governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste. RCRA amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. RCRA set national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and natural resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring that wastes are managed in an environmentally-sound manner. RCRA includes a provision that protects whistleblowers who are retaliated against for reporting potential violations regarding the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009
To further the goal of rooting out fraud, waste and abuse in health care, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (“Act”) that President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes several whistleblower provisions, including a new private right of action for retaliation (Section 1558), reporting requirements designed to prevent abuse of patients in elder care facilities (Section 6703(b)(3)), mandatory implementation of a complaint resolution process for residents and persons acting on behalf of residents at skilled nursing facilities (Section 6105), and a new definition of an “original source” under the False Claims Act that is favorable to qui tam relators (Section 10104(j)(2)).
- Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990
The OWBPA amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to clarify the protections given to older individuals in regard to employee benefit plans, and for other purposes. The Act prohibits employers from denying benefits to older workers. Recognizing that the cost of providing some benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those benefits to younger workers, Congress passed this amendment to counteract the disincentive to hire older employees. The Act also includes requirements for an employee to properly waive an ADEA claim.
- National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 (FMLA revisions for military)
The 2010 NDAA amendments to the FMLA allow any employee whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on “covered active duty” in the Armed Forces to take FMLA leave for certain “exigencies” related to that service. The amendment also expands the military caregiver leave provisions of the FMLA and amended the definition of a “serious injury or illness” to include not only not only those incurred in the line of duty, but also serious injuries or illnesses that were “aggravated by service in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces.”
- National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 (FMLA revisions for military)
The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act amended the FMLA to allow the use of leave for any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty in the Armed Forces. The amendment also extended FMLA leave leave to employees who are caregivers for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of who is a seriously injured service member. The amendment extended the allowable leave for these caregivers from 12 to 26 workweeks.
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
GINA protects Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information in both health insurance (Title I) and employment (Title II). GINA prohibits group health plans and health insurers from denying coverage to a healthy individual or charging that person higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to developing a disease in the future. The legislation also bars employers from using individuals' genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions.
- Civil Rights Act of 1991
This law was passed as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, largely in response to a number of important court decisions interpreting the act. In particular, the law expanded the claims available to plaintiffs under 42 USC § 1981 for race discrimination, and allowed for more expansive approaches to damages. The act provided more remedies for those who were the victims of employers where discrimination was more subtle, such as through a policy that is not discriminatory on its face, but has a disparate impact on certain groups.
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA)
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act protects consumer product industry employees from retaliation for reporting potential consumer product safety violations to their employers or to the government. It prohibits manufacturers, private labelers, distributors, and retailers from retaliating against an employee because the employee provided information to an employer, a regulatory agency, or a State Attorney General about a reasonably perceived violation of the CPSIA or any other act enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the Commission).
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to specifically include discrimination based on an employee’s pregnancy as an actionable claim of gender discrimination.
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) became law in 1986. The CFAA amended a 1984 law known as the Counterfeit Access Device and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 (“CADCFAA”). The CADCFAA was a criminal law which prohibited individuals from accessing government computers and certain financial records at financial institutions. Due to its narrow scope, the CADCFAA was amended several times to expand its reach and to create a private right of action any person who suffers damage or loss because of a violation of the CFAA. Employers have increasingly taken advantage of the CFAA’s civil remedies to obtain both injunctive and monetary relief against employees, making the federal statute a strong tool against employees especially in the context of non-compete and trade secrets litigation. Even if an employer’s suit is ultimately unsuccessful, an employee may be left paying tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees out of their own pocket.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) is a federal law that provides reemployment rights to returning veterans and other members of uniformed services. Under USERRA, an employee who leaves his or her civilian job for military service and meets USERRA requirements is entitled to return to the job with the same seniority, status, and pay he or she would have received but for the military service. Additionally, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations for an employee who suffers an injury or disability or whose disability becomes aggravated during the period of military service. In addition to reemployment and disability rights, USERRA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their service in the National Guard, Armed Forces or any other uniformed service, or retaliating against employees who pursue their rights under USERRA.
- Toxic Substances Control Act
TSCA regulates chemicals by giving the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to require and enforce reporting, record-keeping, testing, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. TSCA includes a provision that prohibits discrimination against an employee who reports a violation of TSCA.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by public accommodations. Title VII of the Act prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982
The whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA) are just a sliver of a major transportation funding and policy act. The law was passed to address concerns for national surface transportation infrastructure. Congress recognized that an effective way to ensure disclosure and reporting of noncompliance with safety regulations for commercial motor vehicles was to create employee protections for whistleblowers. The STAA whistleblower protections are for employees who report certain safety violations and it forbids punishing employees for their efforts to stop violations. This law was strengthened by Section 1536 of The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (Public Law 1105-53), where whistleblowers were given even greater rights, remedies, and procedures than before.
- National Transit Systems Security Act of 2007
The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 included a smaller law, the National Transit Systems Security Act of 2007 (NTSSA), that outlined a framework for a national transit system strategy. As part of that plan, Congress passed whistleblower protections for public transportation employees, recognizing that an effective way to ensure disclosure and reporting of noncompliance with safety regulations for public transportation agencies was to create employee protections for whistleblowers. The NTSSA whistleblower protections are for employees who report certain safety violations and it forbids punishing employees for their efforts to stop violations.
- Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006
The law at 26 U.S.C. § 7623(a) was originally passed in 1867, where the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to pay informants that aid in detecting and brining to trial individuals guilty of violating internal revenue laws. The next substantive change occurred in 1996 when the program was broadened to include detection of underpayments of tax. As a short provision in a much broader Act, Congress enacted fundamental changes to the IRS informant rewards program. Most significantly, a new subsection was added to remove the absolute discretion for awards—awards are now set at 15-30 percent of the collected proceeds if certain thresholds are met. For example, the tax, penalties, interest, additions to tax, and additional amounts in dispute must exceed $2,000,000, and in the case of an individual, the individual must have gross income exceeding $200,000 for any taxable year subject to an action. The pre-amendment program still continues in parallel to the more aggressive program.
- Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994
The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) was a substantial law enacted affecting the railroad industry. One of its provisions related to whistleblowers. As with other whistleblower provisions, Congress recognized that an effective way to ensure disclosure and reporting of noncompliance with safety regulations for the railroad industry was to create employee protections for whistleblowers. The FRSA whistleblower protections are for employees who report certain safety violations and it forbids punishing employees for their efforts to stop violations. This law was strengthened by Section 1536 of The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (Public Law 1105-53), where whistleblowers were given even greater rights, remedies, and procedures than before.
- Energy Reorganization Act of 1974
Because of the potential for significant adverse effects to public health and safety, Congress passed whistleblower protections for those in the nuclear energy industry. These provisions protect employees against retaliation for blowing the whistle on violations of nuclear safety standards. The law seeks to keep nuclear energy companies—and public agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—accountable for nuclear safety.
- Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century
The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21) was a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. In previous years there were rising concerns with aircraft safety and the practice of nonconforming aircraft parts making their way into aircrafts. The law’s goal is, in part, to bring the aircraft industry into the 21st century, including safety standards. Importantly, the law included the first whistleblower protections available to air industry employees. The law protects employees when they disclose wrongdoing related to orders, regulations, and standards of the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as federal laws related to air carrier safety. Including these protections for this sector of the industry keeps aircraft and passengers safer because employers are held accountable.
- National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
Section 827 of the NDAA of 2013 revised 10 U.S.C. § 2017 to protect contractors and subcontractors who disclose information that they reasonably believe evidences:
• a gross mismanagement of a DoD or NASA contract or grant;
• a gross waste of DoD or NASA funds;
• an abuse of authority relating to a DoD or NASA contract or grant;
• a violation of law, rule or regulation related to a DoD or NASA contract or grant; or
• a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Section 828 of the NDAA of 2013 established a four-year pilot program that extends protection to most contractors previously excluded in the past. Under the pilot program, whistleblower protections are extended to all contractors and subcontractors other than those working for the DoD, NASA, Coast Guard, or elements of the intelligence community.
- Financial Institutions Anti-Fraud Enforcement Act of 1990
Passed in the wake of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, the Financial Institutions Anti-Fraud Enforcement Act sought to create a new level of accountability for financial institutions by allowing individuals to report violations of certain criminal laws impacting financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. By bringing these actions forward, the individual whistleblower becomes eligible for a reward based on the successful prosecution and collection of penalties. The statute is unique because it creates a civil cause of action for whistleblowers based on federal criminal laws, such as mail and wire fraud, among others.
- Safe Drinking Water Act
The SDWA was enacted to protect public health by ensuring the quality of drinking water. The EPA sets drinking water standards to protect against natural and man-made contaminants. The SDWA includes a provision that prohibits discrimination against an employee who reports a violation of the SDWA.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Passed in the wake of the Enron scandal, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) sets strict standards for financial behavior by publicly traded companies and protects employees against retaliation for blowing the whistle on violations of these standards. The law aims to protect investors by holding corporations and their leaders responsible for providing honest and complete reports on their operations. The whistleblower provision protects employees—both insiders and outsiders such as auditors—who report certain types of wrongdoing, forbidding the punishment of any good-faith effort to stop fraudulent activity. In 2014 the Supreme Court interpreted this protection very broadly, so that SOX now shields whistleblowers far beyond public companies.
- False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, sometimes called the Lincoln Law, was enacted in 1863 to combat fraud against the government and its troops during the Civil War. Today the FCA imposes civil liability on anyone (including corporations) who knowingly uses a “false record or statement" to get money from the government via fraud, or who conspires to do so. Violators of the FCA face treble damages and a civil penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 per occurrence.
The FCA’s "qui tam" provision, § 3730(b), allows a private person known as a relator (colloquially, a whistleblower) to bring an action on behalf of the United States government. A successful relator may receive a reward of up to 30 percent of the proceeds, plus reimbursement for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses. The FCA also contains a robust anti-retaliation provision that protects individuals who report or oppose violations of the FCA.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 generally requires covered employers to provide equal pay to persons performing the same job regardless of gender. Since the EPA is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who files a claim under the EPA or cooperates with an investigation of such claim.
- Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010, and sought to tighten financial regulations in the wake of the 2008 fiscal crisis. Most of the law’s text is aimed at changing and clarifying the laws and regulations impacting the U.S. financial sector. In order to encourage effective implementation of the law’s provisions, the Dodd-Frank Act created new protections to encourage employees to report misdeeds at their companies. Beyond protecting employees from retaliation for reporting employer malfeasance, the law also created a program that provides monetary rewards to employees who actively report information about wrongdoing to regulators.
- Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977
The 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act prohibit employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against any employee because the employee (1) commenced or is about to commence a proceeding under the CAA or a proceeding for the administration or enforcement of any requirement imposed by the CAA; (2) testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding; or (3) assisted or participated, or is about to assist or participate, in any manner in such a proceeding.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older.
- ADA Amendments Act of 2008
Congress passed the ADAAA to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADAAA overturned Supreme Court decisions that had narrowed the protection available to employees under the ADA. The ADAAA makes it easier for an individual to establish that he or she is disabled by stating that “disability” should be interpreted in favor of broad coverage.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA covers both mental and physical and medical conditions. The statute does not include an exhaustive list of disabilities covered under the ADA. Instead, a disability is covered under the ADA if it affects one or more of an individual’s major life activities.
- Solid Waste Disposal Act
Though such behavior may seem outrageous by today’s standards, many companies up until the 1950s and 60s lacked basic plans to dispose of their waste product. Some burned their refuse; others simply dumped whatever they had into nearby fields. Recognizing the disastrous effects that such unfettered disposal was having on the environment, Congress passed the SWDA which increased federal oversight and involvement in the management of solid waste. In addition to setting forth a comprehensive permit system, the SWDA prescribes various methods for disposing of household, municipal, commercial, and industrial waste. The anti-retaliation provisions of the SWDA prevent retaliation against employees who disclose to the government what they believe to be violations of the law.
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972
Introduced in 1971, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (FWPCA) had a circuitous legislative history before becoming law on October 18, 1972. Despite receiving overwhelming support in the House and a unanimous vote in favor of passage in the Senate, President Nixon actually vetoed the FWPCA on October 17, 1972. Undeterred, both houses of Congress overrode President Nixon’s veto within twenty-four hours. In brief, the legislation requires companies (and local governments) to conform to a permit system and imposes strict requirements on the manner in which pollution may be discharged into water systems. The FWPCA makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against individuals who bring to the attention of the government potential violations of the FWPCA.
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for pregnancy complications, maternity or paternity leave, care of the employee’s own serious health condition, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition. A serious health condition entitling an employee to FMLA leave is any illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. An employee is covered under the FMLA if (s)he has worked for the employer for at least twelve months, has worked at least 1,250 hours over the prior twelve months, and works at a location with at least fifty employees who are employed within seventy-five miles of that location.
- Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal legislation in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act has a number of provisions that have protected employees for the past seventy-five years. Most notably, the FLSA established the national minimum wage and guarantees that employees in certain “covered positions” are paid at a time-and-a-half rate when they work beyond forty hours in a given work week. In addition, the law protects from retaliation those employees who disclose to their employer concerns about possible violations of the statute.
- 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 largely in response to abuses by the Ku Klux Klan in the southern states, the law provides a cause of action for violations of individual constitutional rights by the federal and state governments. Often this provision is used to pursue cases of government employee whistleblowers who discuss or disclose information related to a matter of public concern. Because these disclosures may be protected as free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an employee who suffers retaliation for raising matters of public concern may be able to bring a claim under this statute.
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980
In response to the nation’s increasing awareness of the risks associated with hazardous waste sites and, specifically, the “Love Canal Disaster” in Niagara Falls, New York, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, better known as “CERCLA” or “Superfund,” in order to compel the cleanup of hazardous waste disposal areas. In brief, CERCLA requires companies to take steps to clean up sites that the government has deemed dangerous to public health. Recognizing the importance of individual citizens to the government’s enforcement efforts, Congress included a provision that makes it illegal for a company to retaliate or discriminate against an employee who brings violations of CERCLA to the government’s attention.
- Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal employees who disclose information that they reasonably believe is evidence of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
- Whistleblower related provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005
The Act includes three amendments to the Energy Reorganization Act relating to whistleblower cases.
- Older Workers Protection Act
To amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to clarify the protections given to older individuals in regard to employee benefit plans, and for other purposes.