On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed legislation that expands whistleblower protections for employees working on federal contracts. The law now protects the same categories of workers on both civilian and defense contracts: any employee of a contractor, subcontractor, grantee, subgrantee, or personal services contractor on the federal contract. (Previously there were no protections for people who worked for personal services contractors on any federal contract, or people who worked for subgrantees on federal civilian contracts.)
Covered employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees who report wrongdoing related to a federal contract, such as:
gross mismanagement of the contract, gross waste of government funds;
abuse of authority;
violation of a law or regulation; or
substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.
Reports of such wrongdoing may be internal (made to an authorized management official) or external (made to the government). The new whistleblower protections also prohibit the federal government from reimbursing these newly covered employers for the legal costs of defending themselves against retaliation claims (S. 795, P.L. 114-261).