A January decision by the Supreme Court, in which the court ruled in favor of whistleblower and former federal air marshal Robert MacLean, has implications for other whistleblower cases, say California whistleblower attorneys. This case could set a major precedent affecting sources. The decision also reinforces whistleblowers’ protection by ruling that agencies can’t just pass regulations that insulate themselves from whistleblowing.
MacLean had leaked to a reporter that TSA was planning to take all undercover air marshals off overnight Las Vegas flights in 2003, during a time in which terrorist threat alerts were high, due to budgetary issues. TSA, however, had enacted regulations preventing the disclosure of sensitive security information in 2002. TSA reversed course on placing marshals on these flights. However, they also fired MacLean once TSA discovered that MacLean was the source of the leak.
California whistleblower attorneys say that the key in the case was whether or not MacLean was a protected whistleblower, since he had allegedly violated TSA’s regulation regarding sensitive security information. The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in MacLean’s favor, and ultimately broadened protections for whistleblowers by emphasizing that agencies cannot write their own exceptions to the Whistleblower Act. The Whistleblower Protection Act shields employees who disclose information that they reasonably believe exposes a “substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”
The Evans Law Firm, Inc. handles whistleblower cases. If you think you or someone you know has a whistleblower or qui tam/false claims case, please contact The Evans Law firm, Inc. for a free and confidential consultation at 415-441-8669 or firstname.lastname@example.org.