The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stephen M. Kohn (202) 342-6980
Lindsey M. Williams (202) 342-1903

Greenhouse's Most Recent Letter Causes a Stir

Dispute Over Whistleblower Access to Federal Court Intensifies


As reported in a front-page story of today's Washington Times, internationally respected whistleblower, Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse, has issued an appeal
to the U.S. Senate to pass strong protections for all federal
employees. Mrs. Greenhouse was the only major Bush Administration
executive to challenge the Halliburton "no bid" Iraq reconstruction

In her letter,
Ms. Greenhouse raises the concern that most federal employees,
including herself, would be denied access to federal court and jury
trials under the Senate bill: "If the Senate passes the bill as
currently drafted most federal employees, including
myself, will still never obtain court access."

The Washington Times
reports that some ranking officials continue to defend the Senate bill,
and allege that most federal workers -including Ms. Greenhouse - could
gain access to federal court.

At issue is an obscure provision
inserted into the bill that limits federal court access to federal
employees who suffer adverse action covered under a strict statutory
definition of adverse action set forth in Section 7512 of the Civil
Service Reform Act. Last year Ms. Greenhouse attempted to have her
whistleblower claims heard in federal court claiming that her removal
from the Senior Executive Service (SES) was covered under Section
7512. A September 2, 2008 ruling by the U.S. District Court held that
Greenhouse's removal from the SES was not an adverse action covered
under Section 7512. A copy of the Court's ruling is linked here.

limiting court access to only the small class of adverse actions
covered under this obscure provision of the civil service law,
Greenhouse is once again locked out of the courthouse, " said Stephen
Kohn, the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center.

is absolutely no doubt that under the Senate bill whistleblowers such
as Ms. Greenhouse cannot obtain access to federal court relief when
they are retaliated against for blowing the whistle. The federal court
has already interpreted one of the key provisions contained in S. 372
such a manner, which will deny Ms. Greenhouse her day in court even if
the reform bill is signed into law. The Senate needs to fix the bill
and ensure that whistleblowers who are removed
from the Senior Executive Service and suffer other forms of adverse
action, such as a hostile work environment, can obtain access to
federal court protections," Kohn said.

"We urge every American to read Bunny's letter and TAKE ACTION!
This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is not a partisan
issue. This is an issue that goes to the heart of accountability and
oversight. In the House of Representatives Democratic leader Chris Van
Hollen (D-MD) joined with his republican colleague Todd Platts (R-PA)
to introduce an effective whistleblower law that would give Bunny
Greenhouse her day in court, The Senate and White House should follow
this bi-partisan
lead and ensure that the promises made to whistleblowers during the
2008 election campaign are fulfilled," Kohn added.


Greenhouse Action Alert Letter

S. 372 (See Section 117 (Page 29))
September 2, 2008 District Court Decision
12-part series on the Whistleblower Protection Blog analyzing the Senate Bill
Background on Bunny Greenhouse

Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.