The Civil Service Reform Act applies to labor organizations that represent employees in most agencies of the Federal Government. The Act makes clear that an employee or job applicant cannot be discriminated against for disclosing information that the employee or job applicant reasonably believes is evidence of a violation of the law, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of public funds, an abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
The statute, found at, 5 USC §2302, does not have an express statute of limitations for raising a claim. However, it does suggest that an employee needs to first file his or her complaint with the union and can then proceed to the Office of Labor Management Standards.
In Whitman v. Department of Transportation the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that when the FAA tested Whitman for drugs more often then it tested other employees, it was a violation of his civil rights. However, the district court found that the Civil Service Reform Act required that Whitman bring his claims before the union and not before the court since the court was not given express review in the statute. The 9th Circuit agreed because the Civil Service Reform Act does not expressly give federal court jurisdiction over employment related claims covered by the negotiated grievance procedures in federal union contracts. The 9th Circuit then discussed how other Circuit Courts of Appeals have come to different conclusions about federal court jurisdiction in this kind of case. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which vacated the 9th Circuit’s opinion and found that federal courts do have jurisdiction to review these types of cases pursuant to 28 USC §1331. The Supreme Court case can be found at Whitman v. Department of Transportation, No. 04-1131 (2006).