The federal government has certain laws ultimately designed to prevent the misuse or waste of federal funds. Thus, to encourage federal employees to “blow the whistle” on those engaging in misconduct, lawmakers passed the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). Under the WPA, government employees who report certain acts of misconduct are protected from an employer’s retaliation.
For decades, the federal government has relied upon non-government private contractors to perform certain government functions. However, the WPA only applies to government employees. Thus, to extend the whistleblower protections of the WPA to private government contractors, Congress included certain protections in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
As noted above, the NDAA provides protections to private contractors hired by the federal government when they report waste, fraud, or abuse in federal government contracts and grants. The NDAA also covers whistleblowers who are employees of private contractors, as well as subcontractors and anyone else working on a government contract or grant.
To establish a claim of retaliation under the NDAA, a claimant must establish each of the following four elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The whistleblower’s disclosure was protected;
- The employer knew (or should have known) that the whistleblower engaged in protected activity;
- The whistleblower suffered an adverse employment action; and
- There is a causal connection between the disclosure and the adverse employment action.
The Process of Filing an NDAA Whistleblower Claim
A retaliation claim under the NDAA must first be filed with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the government agency that awarded the contract at issue. Unless the OIG finds the claim is without merit, the claim will be investigated. Within 180 days, the OIG will submit a report to the department head, indicating its findings. After the agency head receives the report, they have 30 days to either deny relief or take affirmative action to abate the retaliation or reinstate the employee under the same terms of employment. The employer must also pay the whistleblower back pay and compensatory damages, including attorney and witness fees.
If the agency head denies the whistleblower’s claim, the whistleblower can file a lawsuit against the federal contractor in federal court. If successful, a whistleblower’s employment can be reinstated with back pay. In addition, the whistleblower can obtain compensatory damages.
Have You Been the Victim of Retaliation?
If you have disclosed the misconduct of a federal contractor and believe you have been retaliated against as a result of your disclosure, contact the dedicated Texas employment attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. At Rob Wiley, we represent employees in all types of retaliation claims, including those brought under the WPA and NDAA. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Dallas employment attorneys.
More Blog Posts:
What Is First Amendment Retaliation and How Can an Employee Bring a Claim of Retaliation?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019.
Are All Texas Employment Contracts Enforceable?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, January 17, 2019.