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Must Read! Whistleblower Laws That Protect You From Harassment

| July 27, 2023

This is an interactive article that sheds light on whistleblower laws and how they protect your rights. These laws are made by the United States Department of Labor. They ensure that employers cannot retaliate or cause any harm to employees exercising their rights to speak up against wrongdoings in the organization. These protections are guaranteed to employees under the whistleblower laws of the USA. 

What Is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of an employee reporting misconduct or wrongdoing within their organization or workplace. Whistleblowing can be reported by people outside an organization as well.

Whistleblowers expose wrongdoings with the intention of promoting:

i.                 justice,

ii.               transparency,

iii.             accountability, and

iv.             ethical behavior.

Whistleblowers report issues related to fraud, corruption, safety violations, environmental concerns, financial fraud, and more compliance violations. The Whistleblower laws safeguard individuals from retaliation or adverse actions they could face after reporting issues of misconduct.

What is Adverse Action? 

Any action that would discourage an employee from speaking up about violations and also impacts employee morale is known as an adverse action or retaliation.

Retaliation to whistleblowing comes in various forms. According to previous cases, it can lead to the following:

a. Illegal termination of employment, 

b. Demotion of the whistleblower, 

c.  Denial of overtime payment or loss of promotion, and 

d.  Illegal reduction in pay or cutting down of allotted hours. It occurs when an employer, whether through a manager, supervisor, or administrator, takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity.

Whistleblowing actually goes back to some of the notable instances, like the Continental Congress offering protection to citizens exposing fraud and corruption during the American Revolution in the US in 1777.  Whistleblowing laws in the US are some of the most notable ones in the world. They include the 

i. Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. This protects federal employees from retaliation after whistleblowing.

ii. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This enhances protections for whistleblowers in cases of corporate fraud.

What are Some of the Most Famous Whistleblower Laws?

Whistleblowing laws play an important role in transparency, integrity, and ethical practices in both the public and private sectors. Let us look at some of the popular whistleblower laws.

1.     Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA)

The WPA is a federal Act enacted in 1989. It provides protection to any such federal employee:

a.      Reporting violations of laws, rules, and regulations.

b.     Disclosing gross mismanagement,

c.      Bringing to light the waste of funds,

d.     Reporting incidences of misuse of authority, or

e.      Showing other dangers to public health or safety.

2.     Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

This was enacted in 2002 in response to the accounting scandals.

SOX is a whistleblower law that protects all

a.      Who report fraudulent activities and

b.     Individuals that report violations of securities laws regulating publicly traded companies.

3.     False Claims Act (FCA)

This Act was enacted in 1863. The Act provides private individuals (qui tam relators) an option to file lawsuits on behalf of the government. These lawsuits can be filed to recover fraudulently obtained funds from federal programs. Whistleblowers who bring successful fraudulent cases to fruition get rewarded with a percentage of the recovered funds.

4.     Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

The Dodd-Frank Act enacted in 2010 gives protections as well as incentives to individuals who report violations of securities laws regarding:

a.      insider trading,

b.     market manipulation, and

c.      corporate fraud.

5.     Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

The WPEA was enacted in the year 2012. It gives protections for federal employees. It furthers the scope and functions of whistleblower laws under the WPA.

6.     Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Whistleblower Protection Program

This was established after the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970. OSHA, as it is widely known, enforces whistleblower laws as means of protection against violation reports of workplace safety standards. One can choose to report hazards and also seek remedies for working under unsafe conditions.

7.     Anti-Retaliation Provisions of Various Laws

Several federal laws serve the purpose of whistleblower laws in the USA.

a.      The Civil Rights Act of 1964,

b.     the Americans with Disabilities Act, and

c.      the Clean Air Act,

All of these have anti-retaliation measures to protect employees who show the courage to report wrongdoing.

Wrapping It Up!

It is very important to note that each of the whistleblower laws has their own specific requirements. Most of these get a clearer scope with the court rulings delivered every passing day. To best understand your rights and protections under these whistleblower laws, you can choose to seek legal advice, consult the relevant statutes, and also conduct some background research for yourself first. New whistleblower laws are made every year in all parts of the world.

New whistleblowing movements take place every day. Be sure to read all about them in our legal blogs to stay on top of things!

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Jyoti Jha
Jyoti Jha

Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.

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