Ethics Hotlines and Whistleblower Proposed Laws

Through the end of September, members of Congress have introduced a number of bills and two resolutions containing whistleblower language. To date, none of the bills and only one of the resolutions has passed.

Nonetheless, these bills may be worth considering. They indicate a continuing interest in encouraging and protecting whistleblowers. They also cover several different industries, sectors, and types of employment, and more than one of the bills is related to Medicare-related services. Businesses that are engaged in these types of industries or that offer related services will want to stay informed, and may want to review their own policies in relation to the language and the sentiments expressed in these bills.

S.42 – Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2013

This bill would add a section defining anti-retaliation protection for whistleblowers to the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004.

S.68 – Secure Chemical Facilities Act

This bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and communicate to the public a process by which an individual may submit a report to the Secretary regarding problems, deficiencies, or vulnerabilities at a covered chemical facility associated with the risk of a chemical facility terrorist incident.

H.R. 704 and S. 1081 – Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

This bill would amend title 10, United States Code, to expand and enhance authorities on protected communications of members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

H.R. 1000 – Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act

This bill would require whistleblower hotline enforcement by the Secretary of Labor. The Secretary would be required to post on a publicly accessible Internet Web site of the Department of Labor the contact information for reporting noncompliance with this title.

H.R. 1203 and S. 575 – Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2013

The bill would establish whistleblower protection for employees of the judicial branch.

H.R. 1483 – Stop Outsourcing Banking Enforcement and Examination Act

The bill would establish a whistleblower incentive program under which awards would be available to whistleblowers whose information leads to a successful enforcement action against an independent consultant covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

H.R. 1648 and S. 664 – Protecting America’s Workers Act

This bill would amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to expand coverage under the Act, to increase protections for whistleblowers, to increase penalties for high gravity violations, to adjust penalties for inflation, to provide rights for victims and their family members, and for other purposes.

H.R. 1649 – Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013

This bill would cover any individual performing services on behalf of an employer that is engaged in oil- and gas-related activities on or in waters above the Outer Continental Shelf.

H.R. 1821 – Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013

This bill would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for patient protection by establishing safe nurse staffing levels at certain Medicare providers. It would establish whistleblower protections for hospital employees and patients.

H.R. 1858 – Congress Leads by Example Act of 2013

This bill would provide whistleblower protections and other anti-discrimination protections for employees of the legislative branch, and for other purposes.

H.R. 2864 – Nursing Home Patient Protection and Standards Act of 2013

This bill would amend Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to improve oversight of nursing facilities under the Medicare and Medicaid programs by preventing inappropriate influence over surveyors, and for other purposes.  This bill would provide whistleblower protections to state employees, and would require every state to conspicuously post a sign specifying the rights of covered individuals.

H. RES. 173 – Waste Whistleblower Protection Resolution

Purpose: to express the sense of the House of Representatives that, in order to make commonsense reforms under sequestration, Federal employees should be encouraged to suggest ways to make more sensible or more efficient budget reductions within their employing department or agency, knowing that they are protected under the whistleblower protection laws.

S. RES. 202 – A resolution designating July 30, 2013, as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day”.  This is one that passed; the Senate deemed July 30, 2013 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.

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