he·ro noun \'hir-(?)?: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage.

Eric Snowden is a hero. Snowden grew up in North Carolina. He enlisted in the United States Army as a special forces recruit before he broke both of his legs in a training exercise and was honorably discharged. Snowden then went to work for the NSA, and CIA, before going to work for one government contractor, and then another (Booz Allen Hamilton). Snowden took a paycut to work for Booz Allen so that he could gather data on America’s surveillance and leak it. Snowden wrote, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end." Nonetheless, Snowden leaked information regarding PRISM (surveillance program), NSA call database, and Boundless Informant. Snowden identified himself as the leaker on June 9, 2013, and was terminated on June 10 “for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy." Now Snowden is being charged with espionage, is on the run, and was terminated. Nonetheless, Snowden showed great courage in exposing government corruption. He should be admired for giving up a high paying job and because he did not want to “live in a world where everything [we] do and say is recorded." Eric Snowden is a hero.

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct. A federal agency violates the Whistleblower Protection Act if agency authorities take (or threaten to take) retaliatory personnel action against any employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that employee or applicant. Whistleblowers may file complaints that they believe reasonably evidences a violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

A federal agency violates the Whistleblower Protection Act if it takes or fails to take (or threatens to take or fail to take) a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant because of any disclosure of information by the employee or applicant that he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

California whistleblower laws provide even greater protection to employees. Under California Labor Code §1102.5(a)-(d), an employer may not:

  • make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower
  • retaliate against a whistleblower
  • retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in either a violation of a state or federal statute or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation or
  • retaliate against an employee for exercising the rights of a whistleblower in any former employment.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." We need whistleblowers to prevent tyranny. That is why this San Diego wrongful termination lawyer would gladly represent Snowden in a wrongful termination lawsuit against Booz Allen.

John McCarthy is a San Diego Employment Lawyer, wrongful termination lawyer, and discrimination attorney dedicated to representing the victims of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination, throughout California.