Whistleblowing - Would You Take the Risk?
My name is Jim Kane, and I am now labeled as a ‘whistleblower.’
Am I proud of my actions? Absolutely!
Has it changed my life? Without a doubt!
Would I do it again? I’m not so sure.
The impact of my decision to blow the whistle on my employer is far greater than I ever expected. As a hardworking man with high standards, a 16-year history with the Armed Services, and a family service legacy that dates back to the founding of the United States, I have always been an advocate of truth and justice.
However, after I blew the whistle on wrongdoings in my place of employment, it didn’t take long before I acquired the dubious label of ‘whistleblower,’ which as you probably already know, is construed as a ‘troublemaker.’ Leadership immediately began taking steps to silence me and force me into compliance ‘or else.’ I was treated as an outcast – a pariah – instead of recognized for my courage.
What is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is a person who reports knowledge of illegal activities that occur within an organization. Whistleblowers can be employees, suppliers, contractors, clients or anyone that becomes aware of unlawful activities taking place, generally within their workplace. (Investopedia)
Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under various federal programs, but they often face very difficult hurdles to prove what they know. Unfortunately, I can’t give you all the details because my case is still pending – but I will share the basics.
My hope is that your support will help defray my legal expenses as I fight what turned into my wrongful discharge.
Here is What I Can Tell You
During the last 18 months of my employment with a large government agency, I filed an Office of Special Counsel complaint regarding prohibited employment practices, an age-based EEOC complaint, and a fraud, waste, and abuse complaint with the Inspector General. These filings were highly credible and were based on activities that represented one or more of the following legal violations:
- Gross mismanagement: substantial risk of significant adverse impact on mission
- Gross waste of funds: more than a debatable expenditure
- Abuse of authority: an arbitrary decision for personal gain and/or to injure others
- A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the law forbids retaliation when it comes to any aspect of employment (including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment).
However, despite my 16-year career of good performance, no previous disciplinary actions, and over 30 years in the industry of design and construction, the agency’s leadership quickly removed me from service within a few months of my filings and just two months after another acceptable year of service as stated in my annual review.
In the end, even when I agreed to comply with the conditions they set before me, they decided to remove me anyway with a different charge leveled on me at the last minute with no due-process. The bottom line is – they were all aware of these protected "whistleblower" activities, and on November 25, 2015, I was fired from federal service after taking a stand against what I believe were unlawful acts of fraud, waste, and abuse within a government agency.
My 16-year career of good performance and no previous disciplinary actions meant nothing, and my reputation was destroyed.
After they removed me from my job, I had 30 days to file an appeal. In December 2015, I hired an attorney, and we filed my appeal through the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB accepted my appeal, and my hearing was completed in April 2016.
This appeal process has already cost me my life's savings and has created much hardship for my family and me. I have exhausted all my cash reserves, sought work without success, and am now faced with an attorney's fee of more than $65,000.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 was enacted to protect federal workers who report misconduct in the government. However, despite that, it’s not an easy road for a whistleblower.
From the 2011 National Business Ethics Survey titled ‘Retaliation: When Whistleblowers Become Victims.’ The report contains some shocking statistics:
- 45% of US workers observed wrongdoing;
- 65% of those who witnessed wrongdoing reported it;
- 22% of those who reported wrongdoing said they experienced retaliation (an increase of 46% from 2009); and
- 46% of those who observed wrongdoing but chose not to report it, cited fear of retaliation as the reason.
I've found out the hard way that whistleblowing is much harder than simply identifying a problem and going to the authorities for help. It is expensive! I’ve also learned that it’s difficult for a man who is nearly 60 to find a job, especially when he was fired from a federal job.
I need your help as I stand up against a bureaucratic Goliath!!
If you are concerned about the fraud, waste, and abuse that are taking place in your US government, I ask you to contribute what you can to help me score a victory over this illegal conduct. Please click here to make your contribution; every dollar helps!