Roth told the Federal Drive that federal employees “are unaware that the law won’t protect them. They think that if they declare themselves as a whistleblower … They have all this automatic protection under law.”
This false sense of security tends to backfire on employees.
Roth said that “under the interpretation of the law, you have to have a reasonable belief that a law was violated. Is your belief reasonable?”
Roth said many employees have a difficult time proving beyond a reasonable belief that the agency violated the law or mismanagement happened.
Roth said investigations often take a long time, delaying when the law would kick in. By the time you are protected, retaliation already could become a problem.
A lot of times, workers resort to anonymous whistleblowing to protect themselves during the investigation process.
“One of the downsides to making an anonymous complaint is that sometimes the inspector general community, because it is anonymous, it’s harder for them to investigate because they don’t know where to start,” Roth said. “A lot of those anonymous complaints go under-investigated.”