Duffy introduces bill to expand whistleblower protections, enhance education

Whistleblower protections would be extended to federal employees who are in probationary periods, and efforts to educate the federal workforce on whistleblower protections would be enhanced under legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) on Friday.

The Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 would also establish minimum disciplinary standards across all federal agencies for retaliation against whistleblowers. The bill is named after a psychiatrist at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Wisconsin who committed suicide the day he was fired for exposing the overmedication of veterans.

“Dr. Kirkpatrick did everything he could to unveil the alarming overmedication of veterans at the Tomah VA, and it ended up costing him his job and his life,” Duffy said. “This whistleblower protection bill will honor his legacy and take further steps to protect the courageous men and women who stand up for what’s right against immoral behavior within our government.”

Under the bill, accessing the medical files in retaliation of personnel for whistleblowing would be classified as a prohibited personnel action, and the VA would be directed to draft a plan to prevent unauthorized access of employee medical files.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) offered identical legislation that passed the Senate on May 25, 2017.

Another whistleblower protection bill from Duffy, the Follow the Rules Act, recently became law. That law safeguards employees against employment retaliation for refusing to violate federal rules and regulations.