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Posing a Direct Threat to the 1964 Civil Rights Act: The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

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by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Embedded in a bill that purports to “enhance” protections for whistleblowers is a poison pill: provisions that would roll back the 1964 Civil Rights Act by effectively denying due process to minority complainants in the federal workforce. “The No FEAR Institute, Net-We and the National Whistleblower Center have vowed to fight this betrayal of the goals of the civil rights movement through public education.” Sadly, however, “civil rights is not a priority under this administration.”

 

Posing a Direct Threat to the 1964 Civil Rights Act: The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Civil rights and whistleblower groups are demanding that President Obama veto the bill if the anti-civil rights provisions reach his desk.”

On May 6, 2012, the U.S. Senate through “Unanimous Consent” approved S. 743 or the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA.) While this legislation provides millions of federal workers with important safety protections, it strips other legal protections particularly for Title 7 complainants, such as African-Americans, women, people of color and economically disadvantaged people, of hard won rights through the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB.)

As proposed in S.743, MSPB Administrative Judges will have the right to grant summary judgment (thus denying due process and jury trials) for victims of civil rights abuse in the federal government. The right to a jury trial was an important achievement earned through the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The bill now proceeds to the House as HR 3289. The No FEAR Institute, Net-We and the National Whistleblower Center have vowed to fight this betrayal of the goals of the civil rights movement through public education. These civil rights and whistleblower groups are demanding that President Obama veto the bill if the anti-civil rights provisions that would empower the MSPB to deny jury trials to victims of civil rights abuse reach his desk. The MSPB does not have an effective record of providing justice for victims of discrimination and whistleblowers, with only two percent of all victims prevailing before the Board. In other words, the government wins at the MSPB 98% of the time, granting the MSPB the title of kangaroo court by its critics.

The right to a jury trial was an important achievement earned through the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”

Summary judgment will have a devastating impact on lower-paid (and often minority) civil servants,” said Steve Kohn, President of the National Whistle-blower Center (NWC.) Giving the MSPB the power to impose “summary judgment means that no low paid federal worker will stand a chance.”

Susan Morris, President of Net-We, a national women’s organization, told me: “Women are often the major victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Agencies use summary judgment against complainants and whistleblowers that do not have the wherewithal to economically and personally defend themselves. Members of Congress need to step up and fix this bill before it is passed."

The No FEAR Institute has been reviewing “No FEAR Act” data reports located on every government website. Three agencies, highlighted in our report, have shown that civil rights is not a priority under this administration. Those agencies are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Justice. Under the No Fear Act of 2002, agencies are required to post statistical data regarding complaints of discrimination on their websites, and provide an annual report to Congress that includes penalties against discriminating officials, costs associated with complaints and retraining their workforces to avoid such complaints. Our information, so far, has shown that all three agencies have failed to comply with the law.

Members of Congress need to step up and fix this bill before it is passed."

The number of people blowing the whistle on corrupt practices in these agencies is growing. Late in May three whistleblowers received the No FEAR Institute’s Whistle Award at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC.  Attorney Richard Renner of the National Whistleblower Center, a leading advocate for whistleblowers with a long record of service to labor, and civil rights organizations; Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician, organizer of OccupyWashingtonDC and co-director of ItsOurEconomy.US and Alease Wright, former National Federal Women’s Program Manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection, was recognized for her fight to protect whistleblowers during her tenure at the Agency and her commitment to helping women and youth throughout her career.

Let your voice be heard, the key sponsors of HR 3289, the House version of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act are: Darrell Issa (Republican – CA). He can be contacted at: 202-225-3906; fax: 202-2253303Pand Chris Van Hollen (MD) at: (202) 225-5341/Fax: 202-225-0375 and Elijah Cummings (MD) (202) 225-4741 fax (202) 225-4741.

See Marsha on C-Span Book/TV at:www.marshacoleman-adebayo.org.

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA is available through amazon.com and the National Whistleblower Center. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR.)

 

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Comments

Thanks for a great blog.That

Thanks for a great blog.That laws fail at protecting the federal whistleblowers, thus discouraging federal workers from bringing unethical acts to light. It is a well-known fact federal whistleblower are frequently looked down upon by their management, harassed, shunned, belittled, demoted, fired, and or blacklisted, virtually putting an end to their careers. Their recourse for such illegal reprisals is a long laborious trail which typically leads to a dead end.Read more here



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