Complaints made to Members of Congress and the DoD Inspector General, including Equal Opportunity complaints, are protected communications under the Whistleblower Protection Act. The complainant is protected to some extent from adverse actions deemed to be taken in reprisal for their complaint. However, protection is contingent on the military’s interpretation and enforcement of the regulations. A 1994 DoD report indicated that follow-up to measure the effectiveness of corrective action taken or to detect and deter reprisal was documented in only six percent of the equal opportunity cases reviewed.
Whistleblower protection against reprisals is not extended to Article 138 or Article 139 complainants. Protection from reprisals for complainants under these articles can only come from making further complaints. However, if copies of such complaints are sent to a member of Congress, the servicemember may receive protection from reprisals under the Whistleblower Protection Act.