A bill signed into law July 9, 2018, enables federal employees to file appeals on Merit Systems Protection Board decisions to any federal appeals court of competent jurisdiction.

The All Circuit Review Act enables federal employees, applicants for federal employment and the Office of Personnel Management to file appeals on cases alleging reprisal for whistleblowing or other protected activities outside of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The change is based on a six-year pilot program that also allowed federal whistleblowers to file appeals across a wider array of federal courts.

According to a June 25 news release by the Make it Safe Coalition, which is dedicated to strengthening protections for whistleblowers, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has a largely negative track record toward whistleblower claims, ruling against the whistleblower in 240 out of 243 decisions prior to the pilot program.

“This is a significant step to improving the chances of whistleblowers to prevail on their claims in court and is cause for celebration. However, it is imperative that Congress continue to act to give whistleblowers access to jury trials and to strengthen whistleblower protections for those in the intelligence community and the military,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project On Government Oversight, in the news release.

Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, said that federal whistleblowers still need jury trials like those afforded to their corporate counterparts to truly ensure employee protections and reduce the backlog of federal cases.

The All Circuit Review Act applies retroactively to November 26, 2017.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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