Whistleblowers perform an important service by bringing to light allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement and by reporting what they reasonably believe to be evidence of wrongdoing. They should not be subject to or threatened with reprisal for doing so. Employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission employees and contractors who blow the whistle play a critical role in keeping Agency programs and operations honest, efficient, and accountable. Federal laws both strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing and protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
What is Whistleblower Retaliation?
Whistleblower retaliation is an adverse action in response to a protected disclosure of information. Retaliation includes almost any personnel action, failure to take a personnel action, or threat to take or fail to take a personnel action, which adversely affects the whistleblower, such as:
- A non-promotion
- A disciplinary action
- A detail, transfer or reassignment
- An unfavorable performance evaluation
- A decision concerning pay, benefits or awards
- A significant change in duties, responsibilities or working conditions
Who is Protected from Whistleblower Retaliation?
- EEOC Employees
- Employees of EEOC contractors
- Employees of EEOC subcontractors for contracts that were entered into after July 1, 2013 and some contracts that were modified after July 1, 2013
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What Types of Disclosures are Protected?
In order for your disclosure to be protected, you must have a reasonable, good faith belief that the allegations you are disclosing are truthful. There are five types of protected disclosures:
- A violation of law, rule, or regulation
- Gross mismanagement
- Gross waste of funds
- A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
- An abuse of authority
Where Can You Report a Complaint of Whistleblower Retaliation?
The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency with the responsibility to receive, investigate, and prosecute allegations of prohibited personnel practices, including whistleblower retaliation. The Office of Special Counsel has authority to seek corrective action directly from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If that is unsuccessful, the Office Special Cousnel has the authority to file a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) on behalf of the whistleblower and initiate disciplinary action against the individual responsible for the retaliation. Corrective action for the whistleblower depends on the situation and might include, for example, cancelling a disciplinary or removal action, back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees associated with the retaliation complaint. For more information on how the Office of Special Counsel processes complaints, click here.