Spring 2014 Course Schedule

Public Employment Law & Policy (LAW-700-001)

Meets: 04:00 PM - 05:50 PM (W) - Room 314

Enrolled: 16 / Limit: 16

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If you are interested in public employment law, administrative law and regulatory law, this seminar offers a more detailed understanding of them by examining how they are related to regulation of public employment. If you would like to learn more about whistleblowing, including justifications for it and the effectiveness of whistleblower laws, the seminar offers a variety of perspectives to understand whistleblowing and to evaluate the cases of a number of whistleblowers who have become public figures in the last decade. The seminar is a writing seminar and members of the seminar will write and defend a research paper based on a topic of their choosing. A wide range of topics fall with the scope of the seminar. In the seminar, we work together to help each member of the seminar develop the best research paper possible. Each student reads the papers of every other student and submits a brief peer review of each. I edit every paper but a student editor also edits each paper. In the last five sessions of the seminar we discuss each of the research papers. These sessions also permit members of the seminar to choose its direction through the choice of topics. In the last few years, several papers from the seminar have been published or led students to internships and employment opportunities. The paper for the seminar will satisfy the upper-level writing requirements. If you have completed the upper-level writing requirement you may choose a shorter paper. While members of the seminar are developing their papers, the seminar will consider some general approaches to public employment law. In particular, we will consider whistleblowing. Our joint project will be to develop a “conceptual draft” of a whistleblowing law. The seminar will consider the history of whistleblowing laws including civil disobedience and the civil rights movement, publication of the stories of whistleblowers, Watergate, and surveillance in the name of national security of citizens for the exercise of their First Amendment rights. The discussion of whistleblowing will examine how administrative regulation, particularly by the Office of Special Counsel and the United States Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) affected the success of the first major whistleblower law in the world. The seminar explores how administrative and judicial interpretation has narrowed the scope of whistleblower laws. Examples are drawn from the Department of Labor’s interpretation of the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and interpretation of the Whistleblower Protection Act by the MSPB and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We will also consider private-sector whistleblower laws, global whistleblower laws, and financial incentives for whistleblowing, including the Federal False Claims Act and bounty provision such as those of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. The seminar also evaluates the assertion that whistleblower laws reflect the perspectives of different bodies of law, including employment law, open-government law, regulatory law, and human rights. In the past the seminar has also provided the opportunity to meet with whistleblower advocates and to examine the cases of some of the most prominent contemporary whistleblowers. Attached is a syllabus for the seminar. If you have any questions, please contact me at vaughn@wcl.american.edu or at 202 274 4242 or drop by my office room 412.

Textbooks and Other Materials

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First Class Readings

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