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Other Whistleblower Laws

Not all whistleblowing laws provide for financial rewards to whistleblowers for exposing the underlying fraud, but they often provide whistleblowers with protection from retaliation and other employment remedies.  Numerous other federal and state laws provide protections for those engaged in whistleblowing activity in various contexts.  Here are some of the whistleblowing laws in key industries.

  • 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.
  • 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 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. This law 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 at least 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.
  • 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 federal 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.

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