In with the New—Out with the Old!

In with the New--Out with the Old!


Through the tireless efforts of whistleblowers, lawmakers, and advocates, whistleblower protection laws have been considerably reinforced over time. Discover the story of Vera English, a nuclear whistleblower from the mid-1980s who faced tremendous losses while confronting her influential employer. As incidents like Vera’s grew increasingly prevalent, Congress intervened to provide enhanced safeguards for whistleblowers. Consequently, the perception of whistleblowers shifted from vocal, “disgruntled” employees, to government informants, with the majority of whistleblowing occurring behind closed doors. In the present day, whistleblowing is safer than ever, but only for those who are well-versed in the whistleblower protection laws.

The Old Whistleblowing

English v. General Electric Company, 85-ERA-2, Decision and Order of Administrative Law Judge (Aug. 1, 1985), reversed by Final Decision and Order of the Under Secretary of Labor (Jan. 13, 1987)

Ernesto Reuben and Matthew Stephenson, “Nobody likes a rat: On the willingness to report lies and the consequences thereof,” 93 Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 384 (Sept. 2013)

Statistics confirming the difficulty of winning a traditional retaliation case are published annually by the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA division.

Government Support of The New Whistleblowing

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Since the beginning of the program, the SEC has paid more than $1.3 billion in 328 awards to individuals for providing information that led to the success of SEC and other agencies’ enforcement actions.

Whistleblowers have played a critical role in the SEC’s enforcement efforts in protecting investors and the marketplace. Enforcement actions brought using information from meritorious whistleblowers have resulted in orders for more than $6.3 billion in total monetary sanctions, including more than $4.0 billion in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and interest, of which more than $1.5 billion has been, or is scheduled to be, returned to harmed investors. — “SEC Whistleblower Office Announces Results for 2022,” SEC (Nov. 15, 2022)

Statements in support of whistleblowers:

U.S. Department of Justice

See, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Fraud Division: Fraud Statistics—Overview, (published annually). The overview effectiveness of reward laws was summarized in the Testimony of Stephen Kohn before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

Academic Support of The New Whistleblowing

Cash-for-information whistleblower programs: Effects on whistleblowing and consequences for whistleblowers,” was written by Harvard Business School professors Aiyesha Dey, Jonas Heese, and Gerardo Pérez Cavazos after they reviewed thousands of whistleblower reward cases under the False Claims Act.

Their findings…

  • “support the view that cash-for-information programs help to expose misconduct”
  • were “inconsistent with the critics’ view that greater financial incentives for whistleblowers trigger meritless lawsuits”

“Overall, our results suggest that the FCA cash-for-information program helps expose corporate misconduct and helps compensate whistleblowers for their income loss.” – 59 Journal of Accounting Research (December 2021), pp. 1689-1740.

The Harvard study was consistent with the research published by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business thirteen years before. See, Alexander Dyck et al., “Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud,” The Initiative on Global Market’s Working Paper No. 3, University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Oct. 2008).

Other studies that echo these findings:

Additional Support of The New Whistleblowing

The 2022 ACFE report explained the importance of whistleblower tips in identifying corporate fraud:

“Despite the increasing number of advanced fraud detection techniques available to organizations, tips were still the most common way occupational frauds were discovered in our study by a wide margin, as they have been in every one of our previous reports. As shown in Figure 10, 42% of cases in our study were uncovered by tips, which is nearly three times as many cases as the next most common detection method.” Report to Nations, p. 21.

Information documenting that whistleblowers are the key source of information for uncovering fraud and corporate crimes are set forth in the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ annual publication, Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse and the Ethics Resource Center study, Blowing the Whistle on Workplace Misconduct, published by the ERC in December 2010.

Additional Information on the success of the modern whistleblower laws is set forth in the Conclusion.

Additional Resources

The most important “new” whistleblower laws have mandatory rewards, prohibit retaliation, and provide for partial or complete confidentiality.

  • Dodd-Frank Act (Commodities Frauds and Foreign Corruption), 7 U.S.C. § 26
  • Dodd-Frank Act (Securities Fraud and Foreign Corruption), 15 U.S.C. 78u-6
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. § 30172
  • False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729-32
  • Tax Evasion and Underpayments (IRS), 26 U.S.C. § 7623
  • Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a)
  • Antarctic Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2409 and 2439
  • Anti-Money Laundering Act, 31 U.S.C. § 5323
  • Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1540(d)
  • Financial Institutions Anti-Fraud Enforcement Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 4201–23
  • Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act, 16 U.S.C. § 742l(c)(3)
  • Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3375(d)
  • Major Frauds Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1031
  • Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. § 5305a(f)
  • Wild Bird Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 4912(c) and 4913(b)

Frequently Asked Questions

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All purchases or donations proceeds go to support the National Whistleblower Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting whistleblowers.

What's Inside

This books covers all federal and state laws regarding whistleblowing, including protections, rewards, and procedures for whistleblowing.

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Kohn is considered the world’s leading authority on international whistleblower law, and behind some of todays modern whistleblower rules.

Introduction: The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Whistleblowing

Law Library

The Law Library is a free companion to the Rules for Whistleblowers, complete with relevant whistleblower cases and important links and resources.

Speaking Engagement

Stephen Kohn enjoys speaking to universities of all sizes, students and professionals, the media, general public, and government officials.

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