Literary Heroes

William Sanjour

by Joy Wolf

William Sanjour (
William Sanjour (

William Sanjour, a former employee at the Environmental Protection Agency, won a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Federal government which established the First Amendment rights of federal employees to "blow the whistle" on the federal government.

On May 30, 1995, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, sitting en banc, issued its decision in Sanjour v. Environmental Protection Agency. The decision sustains a First Amendment challenge to a portion of 5 C.F.R. § 2635.807, the section within the Standards of Ethical Conduct entitled "Teaching, speaking, and writing." In his case, Sanjour challenged rules restricting EPA workers' rights to speak to environmental community groups. The court ordered a nationwide injunction upholding the First Amendment right of federal employees to criticize their agencies. This landmark decision prevents the government from silencing government employees.

Sometime in the late 1960s, the EPA hired Sanjour as a consultant. After working his way up to branch chief of the newly formed Hazardous Waste Management Division, he oversaw studies of hazardous waste damage and treatment technologies. His tireless efforts made way for the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA). RCRA is the principal federal law in the U.S. governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

William Sanjour Painting (
William Sanjour Painting (

Until his retirement in 2001, Sanjour faced demotions, bullying and a drawn out legal showdown. In efforts to disgrace him, He was transferred to a division where he had no staff, and his new office was a cubicle without windows. Sanjour never received a penny in restitution from the government, nor is he seeking any financial gain. His satisfaction comes from knowing that there are families living in safer neighborhoods now and that other whistleblowers can come forth and make the world a better place.

Page created on 4/2/2016 5:14:28 PM

Last edited 4/2/2016 5:14:28 PM

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