COLEMAN ADEBAYO: 11 years of whistleblower and civil rights protection

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013 marks the 11th anniversary of the signing of the No FEAR Act, the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century. Thousands of federal employees and allies worked tirelessly to move congress and the White House to pass legislation to protect civil rights victims and courageous whistleblowers. The struggle to pass the No FEAR Act was difficult and fraught with dangers.  Many federal employees who supported the No FEAR Act were terminated from federal service, careers were destroyed and deaths were reported related to unrelenting managerial stress and abuse. However, through valour and courage, federal government employees refused to stop marching and exposing government abuse. After two years of disciplined struggle on May 15th, 2002, the president signed the No FEAR Act.
 
The No FEAR Act was triggered by a lawsuit brought by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo  (Coleman-Adebayo v. Carol M Browner) an 18 year employee at the US EPA, who blew the whistle on discrimination inside the Agency as well on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers.  Dr. Coleman-Adebayo’s memoir:  No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA provides an account of the passage of the No FEAR Act.
 
While tens of thousands of workers have benefited from the No FEAR Act much work remains to protect employees in the federal workplace. 
 
In April 2011, Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson reported, "If the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Civil Rights were a chunk of ground, it would be declared a disaster area."  He then cited the Deloitte Consulting firm's highly critical report that "paints a picture of a woefully incompetent and dysfunctional civil rights operation....," and further that, "It appeared to place too much emphasis on minor responsibilities, like executing heritage events, and not enough on the critical discrimination cases affecting employees and disadvantaged communities."
 
Many human and civil rights groups  are calling for Congress to pass additional legislation to protect employees, such as, No FEAR 2.
 
~ Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA is available through amazon.com. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo heads the Green Shadow Cabinet's Government Transparency and Accountability division within its Democracy Branch. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit lead to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR.)