What whistleblower protections apply to federal employees?
Whistleblower law protects most Executive Branch employees from workplace reprisal for making certain disclosures of wrongdoing. Whistleblower retaliation can be found if an agency takes or fails to take certain personnel actions because of a protected disclosure, or if it even threatens to take or fail to take such an action.

A protected disclosure is one that shows: a violation of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.

To be covered, an employee needs only to have a “reasonable belief” that the disclosed information qualifies for protection. For an agency decision to be held retaliatory, the whistleblowing must be a contributing factor in the agency’s decision. However, retaliation won’t be found if the agency demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same personnel action in the absence of the whistleblowing.

Cases of alleged whistleblower retaliation typically are brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board by the individual employee or on behalf of the employee by the Office of Special Counsel.
Special rules apply to certain intelligence positions.
See Chapter 10, Section 3 of the Federal Employees Almanac.

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