Since the birth of the United States, whistleblowers have held our nation’s government accountable for illegal, fraudulent, and harmful behavior. The triumphs and failures of whistleblowers are deeply entwined with our nation’s struggle for independence, civil rights, and economic freedom. Nevertheless, employees who bravely expose misdeeds at all levels of our federal government are often bullied and discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender, age, disability, and more. In recent decades, and despite improved whistleblower protections, federal whistleblowers increasingly suffer from adverse employment actions and discrimination as reprisal for their disclosures. Employees looking toward our administrative law systems and our federal judiciary for relief and justice find no efficient, economic, or fair path to adjudicate their claims wholly. Many pursue mixed case claims, which allow an employee to bundle claims of an adverse employment action and discrimination into one suit, only to find that both administrative courts and federal courts reject whistleblowing as a basis for a mixed case claim. This Note argues that, based on the text and purpose of federal whistleblower protection statutes, employees who suffer from both reprisal and discrimination after exposing wrongdoing should be allowed to pursue these claims as mixed cases. This Note addresses the historical context and purpose behind federal whistleblower protections, discusses current whistleblower protection and civil service reform legislation, and examines the current administrative adjudication processes for both pure whistleblower reprisal and mixed case claims. This Note further contemplates the disadvantages to federal employees and, in particular, those living in rural states, presented by the current state of the law. Finally, this Note addresses how administrative agencies, Congress, and the federal judiciary can further enact reforms to protect federal whistleblowers, increase the judicial economy, and promote equitable outcomes among federal employees.
Devin Redding, A Road to Resolution for Federal Whistleblowers' Mixed Case Claims, 125 W. Va. L. Rev. 751 (2023).