CPSIA employee whistleblower provisions

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2009

As if all the other problems with the law were not bad enough, Common Room notes that its provisions conferring new legal protections on disgruntled employees take us another step closer to being “a nation of informants”. Whistleblower provisions are frequently used as a weapon in hardball employment litigation, where “find something to blow the whistle about and they won’t lay a hand on you” is, unfortunately, often sound legal advice for an employee who’s at odds with the boss for other reasons. Maybe the stakes are so high in, say, an area like defense contracting, or where safety violations endanger actual lives, that it’s worth the high cost of some such rules. But for paperwork violations at makers of cardboard puzzles and baby hats?

(GRAPHIC: Zesmeralda at Flickr, some rights reserved, Creative Commons).

{ 1 comment }

1 K 01.22.09 at 1:49 pm

Close cousins of whistleblower provisions are discrimination lawsuits filed by people in protected positions. They cannot lose.

An example is the public employee who files a discrimination or harassment suit just prior to nomal retirement or departure. The pension is secured, the civil service board and union stands ready and alert to protect every aspect of their benefits, and the lawyers will work on spec.

The slightest mistake in paperwork or procedure may bring a large payout even if the suit itself seems to have no merit.

The pols who must authorize the payout normally prefer to avoid a public fight that might interest people in elections. And their staff lawyers, who recommend a settlement out of court, avoid the effort of litigation.

Everyone wins.

A variation, which I understand is common in some places, is to become permanently and mysteriously disabled just before retirement. Disability pays more money ahd has tax advantages.

And there is no risk since certain types of disability can never be disproved until the mind-reading machine is perfected.

Indeed the claim usually cannot be legally revisited after a short time.

There is no solution. Some claims are legitimate, some discrimination and harassment soes take place, and some whistle blowing does reveal serious crime or misbehavior.

About all we can do is hope for sensible administration and legal proceedings. Yeh!

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