Whistleblower law is related to Wrongful Termination law and includes the statutes that protect employees from being terminated or otherwise discriminated against in retaliation for exposing suspected dishonest or illegal activities or wrongdoings, that violate the public trust, occurring in their place of employment. Although the term “whistleblower” is generally associated with government workers who report government fraud, these laws actually offer protection to employees of public or private companies, as well as government agencies. Some of these statutes also make provisions for monetary awards for employees who expose an employer who is guilty of these types of violations.
The federal Whistle Blower Protection Act (WPA) protects most federal employees who work in the executive branch. It also requires that federal agencies take appropriate action. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was created by this act and is tasked with investigating complaints by the federal employees who claim they were punished for blowing the whistle on their employer. Violations reported include illegal activity, gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; and actions which represent a significant and explicit danger to public health or safety.
The False Claims Act is another federal statute that protects whistleblowers who don’t work for the government, but are alleging fraud against the government by federal contractors. It also provides for a financial award to the employee reporting the fraudulent activity by way of a Qui Tam claim.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the organization responsible for administering the provisions of various federal whistleblower protection acts and regulations. To file a complaint with OSHA under one of these statutes, the activity the employee engaged in must be that which has been identified as a protected activity by any of the statutes; his/her employer must have been aware of the activity; and the employer must have subjected the employee to an undesirable action which was at least partially motivated by the protected activity. Timely reporting is an important factor for the successful filing of most whistleblower retaliation complaints. OSHA has regional and area office located throughout the United States.
Most individual states have also enacted their own whistleblower laws, which protect state, public and/or private employees. Unlike their federal counterparts however, these state levels generally do not provide for the payment of compensation to whistleblowers, but instead concentrate on the prevention of retaliatory action toward the whistleblower. (See US Whistleblower Law for a link to a list of individual state whistleblower laws.) Federal law will have precedence over a state law when a conflict occurs.
Know Your Rights!
Articles on HG.org Related to Whistleblower Law
- Protection for Intelligence Agency WhistleblowersWhistleblowers in the intelligence agency locations could require additional protections after the supervisors or management have been exposed for illegal or fraudulent activity. It is important that these persons are safeguarded from retaliation, negative consequences and possible problems form others in the same field.
- Why President Eisenhower’s Dire Warning Is Still RelevantIt’s been well over five decades since the sitting President of the United States issued a grave warning to his fellow Americans as part of his farewell address. Amid the Cold War, the president focused his words on the many threats facing our nation, including the influence of our chief global rival in imposing their ideology and military might.
- Whistleblower Cases in the NewsSometimes, employees are forced to toe the line between doing their job and doing what is morally right. When an applicant applies for a position with a company, they believe the company is following all federal and state government regulations. When an employee gets hired and is subsequently asked to perform unethical duties, they are often confused. Many times, employees fear speaking out because they do not want to lose their job or put themselves or family members in danger.
- Am I Protected as a Whistleblower if Employer’s Criminal Activities Are Not Reported until after I Was Fired?Before blowing the whistle on a supervisor or manager, it is important to ensure the employee is protected from the action. Even if the person was fired for an unrelated matter, it is imperative that the rights of the worker are protected from retaliation and adverse consequences.
- What Is a Whistleblower?The term may be familiar to most people but they may not understand the definition of a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are an important part of our society and they can be compensated for their claims.
- Can my Employer Withhold my Pension after I Lost a Whistleblower Case?When a case is lost where an individual has attempted to reveal illegal or corrupt practices in the company, it is important not to admit defeat. There are other options available. However, if all requirements have been met for benefits through the business, and these have not been received, this could be other illegal actions taken on the part of the organization.
- What Is Healthcare Fraud and How Can You Spot It?Healthcare has been a dominant subject in American life for many years. We talk at length about quality of care, medical errors, insurance coverage and a host of other topics relevant to the industry. Meanwhile, one of the most important aspects of our healthcare goes comparatively unnoticed.
- Kickbacks and Fraud in Our Health Care SystemThe health care industry in the United States is plagued by fraud, abuse and waste. In fact, it costs us up to $60 billion every year. People often think of fraud as being identity theft or fraudulent billing practices, and while those things are certainly a big problem in our current system, fraud often occurs in the form of “kickbacks.”
- Getting the Government on Your Side as a WhistleblowerA whistleblower is a person who brings to light information that uncovers fraud, criminal activity or other wrongdoing. Whistleblower claims are the legal avenue which whistleblowers take to report this fraud. Many of the individuals who file these claims do so on behalf of the government, meaning that they are coming forward with information about fraud that drains taxpayer money.
- How to Avoid Employee DisputesBusiness owners are in perpetual fear of being the target of litigation. Whether it is a customer that falls in the store or an employee who alleges wrongdoing against the employer, there are steps that businesses can take to avoid such disputes. It is also important to understand why these disputes arise in the first place.
- All Employment and Labor Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Employment and Labor including: discrimination, employee benefits, employees rights, ERISA, human resources law, labor relations, outsourcing, sexual harassment, whistleblower, workers compensation and wrongful termination.
Whistleblower Law - US
- False Claims Act
The False Claims Act contains qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions. Qui tam is a unique mechanism in the law that allows citizens with evidence of fraud against government contracts and programs to sue, on behalf of the government, in order to recover the stolen funds.
- IRS Whistle Blower - Informant Award
The IRS Whistleblower Office pays money to people who blow the whistle on persons who fail to pay the tax that they owe. If the IRS uses information provided by the whistleblower, it can award the whistleblower up to 30 percent of the additional tax, penalty and other amounts it collects.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
A landmark whistleblower law also called the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002. It protects employees of publicly-traded corporations from retaliation for reporting alleged violations of any rule or regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.
- State Whistleblower Laws
Table of Whistleblower laws on the state level.
- Whistleblower and Retaliation Protections
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and a number of other laws protect workers against retaliation for complaining to their employers, unions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful conditions in the workplace, environmental problems, certain public safety hazards, and certain violations of federal provisions concerning securities fraud, as well as for engaging in other related protected activities. Whistleblowers may not be transferred, denied a raise, have their hours reduced, or be fired or punished in any other way because they have exercised any right afforded to them under one of the laws that protect whistleblowers.
- Whistleblower Disclosures - US Office of Special Counsel
OSC’s Disclosure Unit (DU) serves as a safe conduit for the receipt and evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 1213.
- Whistleblower Law - Overview
In 1863, the False Claims Act was written to provide a civil penalty "of double the amount of damages suffered by the government, plus a $2,000 forfeiture for each false claim submitted." The law was "enacted to prosecute Civil War manufacturers who substituted sawdust for gunpowder in Union army supplies."
- Whistleblower Laws
This site provides information about False Claims Act qui tam statutes that allow whistleblowers to actually step into the shoes of the government and seek damages on behalf of the government. These False Claims Acts or “Qui Tam Laws” exist at the federal level and have been adopted by 20 states. As the Supreme Court of the United States noted in Rockwell International Corp. v. United States, 127 S.Ct. 1397 (2007),
- Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
Act that amended title 5, United States Code, to strengthen the protections available to Federal employees against prohibited personnel practices, and for other purposes.
- Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007
To amend title 5, United States Code, to clarify which disclosures of information are protected from prohibited personnel practices; to require a statement in nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements to the effect that such policies, forms, and agreements are consistent with certain disclosure protections, and for other purposes.
Whistleblower Law - Europe
- French Whistleblowing Policy
The CNIL was initially opposed to whistleblowing policies but changed its position in 2005. This change in stance permitted the implementation of whistleblowing schemes for relevant French companies affiliated to US companies that are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), a US federal law providing standards for all US public company boards, management and public accounting firms. The SOX also contains certain protection provisions for whistleblowers.
- Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 - UK
An Act to protect individuals who make certain disclosures of information in the public interest; to allow such individuals to bring action in respect of victimisation; and for connected purposes.
Whistleblower Law - International
- United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)
In its eight Chapters and 71 Articles, the UNCAC obliges the States Parties to implement a wide and detailed range of anti-corruption measures affecting their laws, institutions and practices. These measures aim to promote the prevention, detection and sanctioning of corruption, as well as the cooperation between State Parties on these matters. The UNCAC is unique as compared to other conventions, not only in its global coverage but also in the extensiveness and detail of its provisions.
Organizations Related to Whistleblower Laws
- Government Accountability Project (GAP)
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.
- National Whistleblowers Center
Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.