Other Key Whistleblower Laws and Industries Susceptible to Fraud

Other Key Whistleblower LawsFraud occurs in a variety of industries and is enforceable under a number of state and federal laws. In addition to the False Claims Act, the Dodd Frank Act’s SEC and CFTC whistleblower programs, the IRS whistleblower program, and the auto safety whistleblower program, other key whistleblower laws and industry-specific frauds include the following:


Sarbanes-Oxley

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protects employees (as well as contractors and agents) of publicly traded companies who report fraud by the company against its shareholders. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.


Industry Specific Fraud and Whistleblower Laws

  • Crop Insurance Fraud. The Federal Crop Insurance program provides a vital service to farmers and our nation’s agricultural industry—protecting financial investments in crops from unexpected losses—but is, unfortunately, often a target for fraud, which can lead to liability under the False Claims Act.
  • Flood Insurance Fraud. Flood insurance fraud usually occurs in the aftermath of natural disasters, in which a combination of weather factors causes major damage to structures. Most flood insurance policies are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and thus may create False Claims Act liability.
  • Fraud Against Private Insurers – State Laws. Fraud against private insurance companies has negative consequences for all consumers, as those facing rising premium rates know. California and Illinois each have laws that allow interested parties to bring civil suits against defendants who have defrauded (or attempted to defraud) private insurers. “Interested parties” include—but are not limited to—the defrauded insurers themselves.
  • Consumer Finance Protection. The Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 was passed as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation. It protects whistleblowers for reporting violations of numerous federal laws governing covering consumer financial products and services such as mortgages, credit cards and loans. These include the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Debt Collections Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, the Consumer Leasing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. It contains strong anti-retaliation provisions modeled after Sarbanes-Oxley. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.
  • Consumer Products Safety. The Consumer Products Safety Act of 2008 provides protections for whistleblowers reporting on violations of safety standards for consumer products. It was enacted largely in response to some of the high-profile product recalls that had occurred because of contamination from lead and other toxic chemicals. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.
  • Food Product Safety. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 provides protections for whistleblowers reporting on violations of food safety standards. It was enacted in response to several incidents involving wide-scale food contamination and recalls such as with eggs, peanut butter and pet food. The anti-retaliation provisions are modeled on the Consumer Product Safety Act’s provisions. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.
  • Environmental Protection. There are seven principal federal environmental laws that have whistleblower provisions to protect government or private employees reporting environmental violations under the statutes. These include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Superfund Law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Atomic Energy Act, and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.
  • Wildlife Protection. Whistleblower awards are available for individuals reporting violations of many wildlife protection statutes, including: The Endangered Species Act, The Lacey Act, The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, The Wild Bird Conservation Act, and The Antarctic Conservation Act. In addition, under a 1982 amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act, whistleblower rewards are available to those reporting violations of “any laws administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service relating to fish, wildlife, or plants.”
  • Nuclear Safety. The Energy Reorganization Act provides protections for whistleblowers reporting on violations in the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industries. This statute was recently amended to permit employees in some cases to file claims in federal court. Employees who prevail under this statute may be entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or seniority level, backpay, special damages (for reputational damages or emotional distress) and whistleblower attorney’s fees.
  • Federal Government Employees. The Whistleblower Protection Act (part of the Civil Service Reform Act) protects whistleblowers who are federal employees reporting violations by their particular government agency employers. These protections generally do not apply to employees working for some agencies dealing with national security. The exclusion of these employees stems from concerns relating to the disclosure of confidential information implicating national security. For these employees, there are limited whistleblower protections provided through other sources such as the FBI Whistleblower Protection Act, the Inspector General Act, the Privacy Act, the First Amendment and the anti-discrimination laws such as the Civil Rights Act and Title VII.
  • Military. The Military Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistleblowers in the military reporting on violations of law, discriminatory conduct, abuse of authority and public health and safety issues.
  • Employment Discrimination. All of the principal employment discrimination laws include whistleblower protection provisions. These include the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the American with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Airline Safety. The Aviation Investment and Reform Act protects whistleblowers reporting on airline safety issues.
  • Pipeline Safety. Modeled directly after the Energy Reorganization Act, the Pipeline Safety Act protects whistleblowers reporting on environmental and safety violations at oil and gas pipelines.
  • Mine Safety. The Mine Health and Safety Act protects whistleblowers reporting on health and safety violations in mines.
  • Maritime Safety. The Protection of Seaman Against Discrimination Law protects whistleblowers reporting on violations of the maritime laws.

 


Additional State Laws
In addition to the state false claims acts, almost all states have some form of whistleblower protection statute at least covering certain categories of workers and frauds.