Thursday May 23, 2013
Groups call on Obama to Veto the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act if Summary Judgment Survives House VoteSalem-News.com
“...summary judgment means that no low paid federal worker will stand a chance.” - Steve Kohn, NWC
(WASHINGTON DC) - A national “Whistleblowers Conference on Civil and Human Rights,” is being held this week in the nation’s capital to protest the treatment of whistle-blowers and women in this administration. Go to: www.occupyEPA.com for more details.
On May 6, 2012, the US Senate through “Unanimous Consent” approved S. 743, 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 African-Americans, women, people of color and economically-disadvantaged people of hard won rights through the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB.) The current bill passed by the Senate would give the MSPB Administrative Judges the right to grant summary judgment (thus denying jury trials) for victims of civil rights abuse and whistleblowers. The right to a jury trial was an important achievement earned through the 1964 Civil Rights Act – a major right gained through the civil rights movement.
The bill now proceeds to the House where civil rights and whistleblower groups vow to work to remove this language. Failing this process, civil rights and whistleblower groups are asking President Obama to veto the bill which would empower the MSPB to impose summary judgment. The MSPB does not have an effective record of providing justice for victims of discrimination and whistleblowers, with only 2% of all victims receiving relief by the Board.
“It is unthinkable that an enhancement of protections for whistleblowers, which is what this bill is supposed to do, would give more power to the Board,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. “This is a betrayal of the goals of the civil rights movement,” she continued.
“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 said, “Women must begin to protect their rights because they 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. The members of Congress, once alerted, need to step up and fix this 'Trojan horse' that is in the bill before it is passed."
The No FEAR Institute and Training Center will announce its No FEAR Hero’s Award during a press conference on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 11:30 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Awardees include attorney Richard Renner of the National Whistleblower Center, who is a leading advocate for whistleblowers, with a long record of service for labor organizers and civil rights. Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician, single payer advocate, organizer of OccupyWashingtonDC and co-director of ItsOurEconomy.US. Alease Wright, former National Federal Women’s Program Manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection who fought for the rights of women and has been involved in community activities for women and youth throughout her career. Ms. Wright was victimized by EPA, but continued to maintain her integrity and commitment to others.
A Committee has been reviewing “No FEAR Act” reports throughout the government and will be presenting three agencies that have shown that civil rights is not a priority under this administration: 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, as well as providing an annual report to Congress that includes penalties against discriminating officials, costs associated with complaints and training of the workforce. Preliminary information gathered has shown that agencies have failed to comply with the law.
The No Fear Institute is currently in the process of seeking further data and information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), after which time they will prepare a report on their findings.
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