For many years, the Board and the courts found the WPA did not protect disclosures regarding policy disputes where “reasonable people” might disagree over the merits of a given policy. See, e.g., White v. Department of the Air Force, 391 F.3d 1377, 1382 (Fed. Cir. 2004).
In effect, a policy disagreement can serve as the basis for a protected disclosure only if the legitimacy of a particular policy is not debatable among reasonable people.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has refined and clarified this legal principle to the effect that the WPA’s protection now covers disclosures about policy, even where reasonable people might disagree on the merits of that policy, when the policy concerns a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Chambers v. Department of the Interior, 515 F.3d 1362, 1368-1370 (Fed. Cir. 2008)
Chambers v. Department of the Interior, 116 M.S.P.R. 17, ¶¶ 16-24 (2011)