New Tools for Embattled Public Servants
Web Center Displays Legal Rights and Options; Sign Ups for Free Legal Counseling
Washington, DC — A unique new online legal help center for federal, state and contract employees confronting whistleblower-related issues was unveiled today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Besides proving breakdowns of the scope and strength of whistleblower-related laws, the site enables public employees to schedule free consultations with PEER attorneys.
“Our goal is to give employees information about their rights and options before they become entangled in the legal system,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who is one of the nation’s top civil service litigators having won such high-profile cases as the restoration of Teresa Chambers as Chief of the U.S. Park Police. “We aim to assist conscientious public servants in better serving the public without needlessly becoming martyrs.”
- The new web center provides breakdowns on topics such as –
- Recent changes in federal whistleblower law;
- How new federal scientific integrity policies work;
- New whistleblower protections for employees of federal contractors, subcontractors and grantees;
- The evolving and expanding whistleblower responsibilities of Inspectors General;
- Whistleblower protections in environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and Superfund; and
- The False Claims Act and whistleblower bounty programs.
The coverage of whistleblower laws, especially at the federal level, has grown in recent years. The importance of these statutory whistleblower rights has been magnified by a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision largely stripping government workers of on-the-job First Amendment free speech protections.
Besides federal law, the PEER website displays a detailed analysis and comparison of whistleblower laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The site specifies which states cover what disclosures, under which circumstances and with what remedies.
“It is important not only to know the letter of the law but how these laws work in practice,” added Dinerstein, noting that other groups and law firms charge for the information PEER is providing for free. “We are not looking for clients but looking to help people avoid becoming clients.”
In addition, PEER has a new legal resources web center just for public agency and university scientists. It addresses topics such as the right to publish without official approval, how to handle intrusive and disruptive public records requests and how to avoid being dragged into lawsuits.