Retaliation for a disclosure made by an SSA employee or applicant which such individual reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety is prohibited, and subject to the below rights and remedies, provided the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs. But, the “provided” language in the preceding sentence does not apply to any disclosure to the Special Counsel, the Inspector General of an agency or another employee designated by an agency head to receive such disclosures.
If retaliation occurs, whistleblower protection law provides many forms of rights and remedies for SSA employees, including:
- job restoration;
- reversal of suspensions, and other adverse actions;
- back pay;
- reasonable and foreseeable consequential damages, and compensatory damages (including interest, reasonable expert witness fees, and costs); and
- award of damages for attorney fees and expenses incurred due to retaliation.
SSA employees who retaliate (i.e., take or fail to take a personnel action because of the disclosure, assistance, cooperation, disclosure or such refusal) may face disciplinary action (including removal) and monetary assessments.