The Transportation Security Administration announced this week that its screeners would have the ability to appeal their whistleblower retaliation claims. The screeners have, since the agency’s 9/11 reforms, enjoyed far less federal employee whistleblower protection than other government employees. Before the change, employees who blew the whistle on unsafe practices in the security systems of our nation’s airports had but one recourse: they could take their case to the Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is an "independent" government agency charged with hearing whistleblower complaints — the truth is that meritorious claims are routinely dismissed by the OSC.
Now, the TSA Screeners, like many other government employees, can appeal an OSC ruling to the Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB"). Although this does provide an extra layer of protection for some of our nation’s most critical whistleblowers, it is far from optimal. The fact is that, like other victims of illegal retaliation and discrimination, whistleblowers should have the right to appeal their cases to federal court, and have their case heard by a jury.
That being said, kudos to the American Federation of Government Employees for pushing the new regs, their efforts are certainly a commendable step in the right direction.