A bill named after a whistleblower who worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin, was signed into law in October.
The legislation, entitled the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act, was authored by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and co-sponsored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
Dr. Kirkpatrick was a 39-year-old psychologist who took his own life after being fired from the VA facility in Tomah. He had raised concerns within the VA about various issues with patients’ medications — including over-prescription of opioids — that resulted in the death of a Marine veteran and the ouster of some senior leaders of the facility.
The new law makes the penalties even more severe for anyone who retaliates against whistleblowers. It also seeks to enhance the whistleblower protections that already exist within the structure of the VA and across the federal government.
In a joint statement, Johnson and Ernst said the legislation sends “a strong message that federal whistleblowers like Chris deserve protection, and attempts to intimidate or silence whistleblowers are unlawful.”
The new law adds to an already-strong set of federal protections afforded to whistleblowers across the country — particularly those who expose wrongdoing on the part of government agencies and departments. Any whistleblower who is the victim of retaliation stands to recover significant compensation if they take legal action against the wrongdoer.
For further guidance on how you can stand up for your rights as a whistleblower and fight back against retaliation, work with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.