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Whistle Blower Laws


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What are Whistle Blower Laws?

Whistle blower laws and other laws that that have provisions for employer retaliation protection are enforced by a number of government agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and its divisions enforce several major laws that directly protect whistle blowers or have provisions to shield employees from retaliation, for reporting violations of the laws, refusing to engage in any action made unlawful by the laws, or participating in any proceedings under the laws.

The Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enforced by the Department of Labor. It protects employees of publicly-traded corporations from retaliation for reporting alleged violations of any rule or regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. Not only does this landmark Act criminalize employer retaliation, it also requires publicly-traded corporations to create procedures for internal whistle blowing. Additionally, it requires attorneys to become internal whistle blowers.

As indicated previously, Federal discrimination (equal employment opportunity) laws also have protection provisions for whistle blowers. For example, if you observe a prohibited discrimination against employees and you report it to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you. If your employer retaliates anyway, you may file a discrimination charge with the EEOC, to preserve your right to sue the employer.

The Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistle blowers who work for the Federal government, and is enforced by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

The Military Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistle blowers in the U.S. military, and is enforced by the Department of Defense Inspector General.

For more about whistle blower laws and protection, click the resources in the sidebar listed under Elsewhere on the Web.

Federal whistle blower laws mandate only the minimums to which all states must adhere. States are allowed to create their own whistle blower laws, that include or expand upon the minimum protections afforded by the Federal laws. To research your state's whistle blower laws, start with the resources listed in State Labor Law and Employment Law. Alternately or additionally, contact your state's department of labor.

Before blowing the whistle, it's a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney in your state, to ensure you are protected by a whistle blower law or a like provision in another law.

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Information is not the same as legal advice. The articles Whistle Blower Protection and Whistle Blower Laws contain information only and are not intended as legal advice. Neither the author nor publisher are engaged in rendering legal services. Please see an attorney for legal advice. Should you act based on this information, you do so at your sole risk. Neither the author nor publisher shall have any liability arising from your decision to act on this information.

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