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What is the Whistleblower Protection Act?

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The Whistleblower Protection Act safeguards federal employees from retaliation when they report fraud or mismanagement occurring in their government offices, according to the American Bar Association. The law mandates that employers can't fire, demote or reduce the pay of employees who disclose violations. Whistleblowers who experience discrimination can seek lost wages, attorney fees and compensatory damages.

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The original 1989 WPA became part of the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which strengthens the law and closes loopholes, notes the ABA. For instance, the enhancement act notes that whistleblowers receive protection even if they make their disclosures while they are off-duty. The law also protects scientists who reveal flaws in the scientific process that may lead to excessive government waste. The enhancement act extends to employees of the Transportation Security Administration, including more than 50,000 baggage and passenger screeners who work in the nation's airports.

The WPA is one of more than 20 federal whistleblower laws that protect employees in every type of business, including the financial industry and nuclear power plants, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The various laws have different time frames for filing complaints. In many cases, an employee has only 30 days to file a complaint alleging retaliation under the whistleblower laws.

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