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The Notification & Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation (NO FEAR) Act

The NO FEAR (Notification & Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation) Act was enacted by Congress on May 15, 2002 to require Federal agencies to be accountable. The Act requires that Federal agencies be accountable for violations of anti–discrimination and whistleblower protection laws and requires VA to provide training to employees and applicants for VA employment on federal antidiscrimination, whistleblower protection, and retaliation laws. Federal employees are prohibited from engaging in discrimination. If, as a VA employee, you are personally impacted or observe such conduct, it should be reported to appropriate officials.


Anti–discrimination – 5 U.S.C § 2302(b)(1) and (b)(10) 


It is a prohibited personnel practice to discriminate against an employee:


• Based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, mental or physical disability, age, marital status, or political affiliation

• Based on "conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee or applicant, or the performance of others."


Whistleblower Protection 


Federal employees must also follow the guidelines of Whistleblower Protection – 5 U.S.C § 2302(b)(8). Whistleblower reprisal refers to the actual or threatened taking or withholding of a personnel decision in retaliation for a protected disclosure against employees and applicants. Employees or applicants may disclose information that they reasonably believe shows evidence of the violation of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. An employee or applicant is also protected if an employer mistakenly believes he or she is a whistleblower.

Check Your Knowledge 4 


Consider this scenario: Janet Johnson, a clinical trainee, suspected that her supervisor was disclosing private patient information inappropriately. Janet reported her suspicions to a manager several levels above her supervisor, and that manager initiated corrective action. Now Janet’s supervisor is threatening to give her a poor evaluation. Is this disclosure protected under Whistleblower Protection?




The disclosure described in the scenario is protected because:


• The trainee has a reasonable belief that the disclosed information is true.

• There is no requirement that trainee go through chain of command.

• The whistleblower’s personal motivation does not affect the reasonableness of a disclosure.

• The disclosure is made to a person in the position to facilitate corrective action.


The Notification & Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation (NO FEAR) Act 


A protected disclosure falls into one of two categories: 

1.  disclosures made as part of normal duties outside of normal channels; or 


2.  disclosures made outside of assigned duties. Disclosures made as part of normal duties through normal channels (e.g., to the alleged wrongdoer) are not protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act. Disclosures must be specific and detailed and may be made to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Office of Inspector General (OIG) or comparable official, the media, or other person in position to take or facilitate corrective action provided that the disclosure is not prohibited by law and the information does not have to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs. 

If an employee or applicant believes he or she has been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, he or she may report it to the VA OIG Hotline at 1–800–488–8244 or file a written complaint with the OSC or online through the OSC [] web site.


Additional information regarding whistleblower protection can be found at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [] web site.

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