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How whistleblowers are legally protected

Some New York whistleblowers may pay a high price for the information they share even though there are legal protections in place. However, one attorney who works to protect whistleblowers says they tend to act from a place of conscience. Furthermore, the number of whistleblowers has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, and the public perception of them has become significantly more positive. Once seen as somewhat on the fringes and even as betraying their colleagues, whistleblowers today are more likely to be seen as public heroes.

In 2003, a federal air marshal went public with the news that the Transportation Security Administration was no longer placing air marshals on long-haul flights because of budget cuts. He was fired for revealing information publicly about aviation safety even though the TSA changed its policy. In 2015, after the case had made its way to the Supreme Court, he was reinstated, but in 2019, he was fired again.

Other whistleblowers include one who reported the overturning of denials for security clearance and another who said the Food and Drug Administration did not address warnings about the dangers of the drug Vioxx. The Whistleblower Protection Act is 30 years old, but additional laws have been passed to protect whistleblowers since then.

People in certain occupations have their own set of laws that protect them if they become whistleblowers. For railway workers, it is the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Their employers are not supposed to retaliate against them if they engage in various kinds of protected activities. This includes reporting hazards or refusing to work in hazardous conditions. Railway workers who believe they are facing retaliation at work after engaging in a protected activity may want to consult an attorney to see what options they might have.

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