Whistleblower Protections

Retaliation against whistleblowers takes many forms. A little person working at the White House recently reported a supervisor moved files to a high shelf out of her reach. Others report being followed, shunned, smeared, fired and worse. Whistleblowers often find themselves in a hostile work environment.

Julie Myers Wood, a corporate compliance consultant, thinks that works against both whistleblowers and their employers. In-house reporting programs with whistleblower protections built in are the way to go, writes Wood, who has a resume filled with high level federal government positions.

Institutions must shift their mindsets to view the reporting of regulatory problems as an opportunity to shine by addressing the problem, improving the institution and preventing large settlements. 

In a column posted on the Forbes website Monday, she suggests companies work with whistleblowers to both protect the company and strengthen compliance.

Companies need to get to a place where they embrace the potential whistleblower by creating a transparent culture, instilling the shared value of compliance at all levels.

Her advice is not aimed at whistleblowers, some of whom have had bad experiences with in-house hotlines. Advocates suggest employees approach internal reporting systems carefully – they are there to protect the company and can be used against whistleblowers.

Wood encourages the development of internal reporting programs with the message – let’s try to keep this in house. For companies, that is a good thing. But whistleblowers have found that internal reporting isn’t always effective or to their advantage. They have other options. Working with law enforcement or government agencies, they can remain anonymous in many cases and often qualify for a reward.  
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The New York Times headline inspired retired Environmental Protection Agency staffer William Sanjour to write to the editor.

The headline read: “Whistle-Blower Did the Unexpected: She Returned to Work”

Why are you surprised that a whistle-blower went back to work?” he wrote in a letter posted Wednesday. “I was a whistle-blower at the Environmental Protection Agency and went back to work for 20 years and continued to blow the whistle, as did several of my whistle-blowing colleagues. That’s the law.”

The law he refers to is the Whistleblower Protection Act and Sanjour relied on it as a long-time critic of his own agency.

The Times story he refers to was about Tricia Newbold, a White House security office staffer. This weekend, she told Congressional investigators that senior White House officials overruled security staff and granted clearances to 25 employees.    
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International-fund-for-animal-welfare-logoIn the region of East Africa, poachers are slaughtering elephants at a rate faster than these elephants can reproduce. In fact, thousands of elephants are cruelly killed each year to meet the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory.   The people and communities that live closest to these majestic animals pay a high price as a result of this illegal activity.  This is just one example of the critically urgent need to protect animals from illegal killing and to protect those brave enough to come forward with information to stop this wildlife crime before it happens. 
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Whistleblower Directive heading for approval by the European Parliament contains serious deficiencies that impede direct reporting to law enforcement agencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 13, 2018—The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and leading international bank whistleblower, Mr. Bradley Birkenfeld, have filed a formal response to the European Commission’s proposed Whistleblower Directive. The response highlights serious deficiencies in the proposed Directive that undermine international anti-corruption treaties and place restrictions on the ability of private sector employees to directly report corruption to law enforcement officials.


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On June 29, 2018 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced proposed amendments that undermine the rules governing its successful whistleblower program.

National Whistleblower Center (NWC) has issued an action alert urging commentary on these proposed amendments. The SEC proposal puts caps on rewards related to cases resulting in $100 million or more in fines. This removes the incentive to blow the whistle on large corporations committing fraud, and consequently will allow large corporate fraud to go unreported and unpunished.


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sec-building-headquartersThe rewards for SEC whistleblower can be potentially limited for a successful qui tam lawsuit. The SEC is proposing controversial amendments to its whistleblower program. Under current directives, a whistleblower who provides information that leads to an SEC enforcement action receives 10%-30% of the recovery by the agency. This monetary provision incentivizes potential whistleblowers to disclose rather than remain silent.

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judge-gavel-law-bookThe Trump Administration has signed the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act (S. 1869) into law, permanently reauthorizing the Whistleblower Protection Coordinator position in all federal agencies’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Special Counsel Henry Kerner stated: “This an important step to ensure whistleblowers who disclose waste, fraud, and abuse know their rights and are protected.”


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Attendees at the 2017 National Whistleblower Day celebration.

Today marks the 100-day countdown to National Whistleblower Day, celebrated each year on July 30th.

National Whistleblower Day commemorates the passing of America’s first whistleblower law on July 30th, 1778. This visionary action, taken during the height of the American Revolution, stands as a testament to the importance of whistleblowing in U.S. history.


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