The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has put together this web resource to help federal sector employees learn more about their whistleblower rights. The information here is just a starting point and is not legal advice. The legal information POGO provides closely follows the statutory language where it exists. Agencies and courts may interpret the law differently and more narrowly than one might assume. For legal advice specific to one’s circumstances, seek the services of a qualified and experienced attorney. Blowing the whistle is risky business.
There is a patchwork of legal protections for federal sector employees who blow the whistle. The relevant law depends on where you work in the federal government, and whether you are a government employee, uniformed member of the armed services, or contractor. Knowing what law one falls under matters since the protections vary from law to law from what types of disclosures are protected to where one can legally disclose problems.
This web resource is focused on whistleblower protections for federal sector employees who have made or are considering making disclosures related to their workplace. But there are other legal protections that may be more relevant to a federal sector employee’s question about their free speech rights. For instance, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment generally protects government and contractor employees from job loss for speech in their capacity as private citizens on matters of public concern. But there are limitations, including an exception for speech made pursuant to official job duties. Again, seek the services of a qualified and experienced attorney for legal advice.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the Know Your Rights portal and the information therein as a source of general knowledge and solely in the hopes that it will be a helpful resource for current and potential government whistleblowers.
That being said, we are cognizant of the legal realities of our world, and thus we include the following disclaimer:
This is not legal advice nor a substitute for it. This “Know Your Rights” web resource and any information herein (collectively, the “Services”) do not provide legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in the Services or anywhere else on pogo.org should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law.
The legal information provided on this website and in the Services are of a general nature and are not meant to be a substitute for the advice of a licensed professional (i.e., a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case).
No warranty. POGO reserves the right to make changes, corrections, and/or improvements to the Services at any time and without any notice. No warranty whatsoever is made for any of the information displayed in the Services. Statutes, regulations, and other laws can change. A law may have been modified or overturned by subsequent developments since an entry was made.
In addition, POGO disclaims any and all liability for damages incurred directly or indirectly as a result of errors, omissions, or discrepancies.