Yesterday, political figures, agency leaders, and whistleblower advocates gathered to celebrate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, this year in an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2013, July 30th has been recognized by Congress as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day,” a day where U.S. agencies recognize whistleblowers and the anniversary of the nation’s first whistleblower law, which was passed by the Continental Congress in 1778.
In his annual National Whistleblower Day keynote address, longtime congressional champion for whistleblowers Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) noted that whistleblowers are “needed now more than ever” due to the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
The massive increase in federal spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has opened to the door to fraudsters hoping to take advantage of the situation and prey on the vulnerable. “Our eyes and ears are going to be the whistleblowers,” said Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. “It is critical they come forward.”
This year’s National Whistleblower Day celebration also included a panel on coronavirus whistleblowers. Jhonna Porter, a nurse at West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles and COVID-19 whistleblower, was featured on the panel. Porter was suspended after raising concerns within her unit when she saw a lack of PPE for her colleagues. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way,” she said.
Whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn, partner at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, led a panel on the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational and Health Safety Act (OSHA). Kohn interviewed Professor and Former Dean at Northeastern University School of Law Emily Spieler about OSHA whistleblower protections in the age of COVID-19.
For a full list of panels, visit: https://kkc.com/national-whistleblower-day/#nwd-videos