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Group: Whistle-Blowers Need Protection

Dec 23, 2002 | AP Whistle-blowers need greater legal protection from employer retaliation, a whistle-blowers advocacy group said Monday.

The Washington-based National Whistleblower Center asked President Bush to introduce comprehensive legislation that would protect whistle-blowers who report workplace corruption from employer retaliation, such as on-the-job harassment or unfair discipline.

This week, Time magazine selected as its Persons of the Year three women whose reports of misdeeds in their organizations caused headlines and major demands for reform during 2002. Two of the women, Sherron Watkins and Cynthia Cooper, worked for corporations. The third, Coleen Rowley, is an FBI agent.

At least 18 sectors of the economy still lack whistle-blower protection, including the health care industry, the food-safety sector and the pharmaceutical industry, the National Whistleblower Center said in a letter. The nonprofit group lobbies for whistle-blower rights and has represented terminated employees in several high-profile legal cases.

Even employees reporting financial misconduct at publicly traded companies had no legal protection until last year, after Watkins and Cooper exposed corporate transgressions at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc.

"The ineffective, deficient and patchwork nature of prior attempts to protect whistle-blowers must finally give way to passage of a National Whistle-blower Protection Act," the group's letter said.

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