Whistleblower Protection Laws: Direct Hires

Retaliation against whistleblowers is a prohibited personnel practice under civil service laws, and managers who retaliate may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including removal.

A Protected Disclosure indicates the disclosure of information which the employee reasonably believes provides evidence of:

  • A violation of law, rule, or regulation,
  • Gross mismanagement,
  • Gross waste of funds,
  • An abuse of authority, or
  • A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

A disclosure is protected even if the whistleblower is wrong, so long as the whistleblower reasonably believed the disclosure was correct.

How to File Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints

If an adverse personnel action has been taken or threatened against you in retaliation for making a disclosure of wrongdoing within your office, to the OIG, or elsewhere, you may submit a complaint to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) or to the OIG Hotline.  Allegations of reprisal regarding equal employment opportunity (EEO) matters generally should be addressed through the EEO process.

Additional Resources: Federal direct-hire employees may find additional information about prohibited personnel practices and employee rights at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) websites, respectively.

Handling Classified Information

Employees may report on information required by Executive Order to be kept classified or by law to be restricted in circulation (for example, trade secrets or Privacy Act protected material) but only if disclosed to (1) the Special Counsel, (2) the inspector general of an agency, (3) Congress, or (4) another employee of the agency who is designated to receive such a disclosure.