Whistleblower Protections – Know Your Rights and Legal Options

Whistleblowers play an essential role in keeping the government honest and efficient. Federal law provides strong protections for individuals who report wrongdoing.

To be protected, you must report a “qualifying disclosure.” The law defines this as a report of a severe failure in your workplace that you believe falls within a specific statute.

Whistleblower law firms play a crucial role in supporting individuals who expose wrongdoing, ensuring they have the legal representation and protection needed to navigate the complexities of whistleblower cases. These firms contribute to accountability, transparency, and the enforcement of laws that safeguard individuals reporting misconduct.



While progressive, protective legislation is making a difference in some parts of the world, it is all too common for the brave act of speaking out to result in retaliation, jeopardizing a whistleblower’s career, livelihood, and mental health. This retaliation can take many forms: disciplinary charges, false allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct, unfair performance evaluations, pay deductions, discriminatory hiring practices, refusal to promote or hire, threats, and other types of intimidation.

Whistleblowers often report their employer’s illegal activities to government and regulatory agencies. These illegal activities can include tax fraud, insurance fraud, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, securities law violations, environmental crimes, and other types of crime that threaten public safety, national security, or the environment. Some whistleblowers are rewarded for reporting their information, which can be ten to thirty percent of the amount the regulating or government agency has recovered from its investigations.

It is also legal for a whistleblower to file a private action against their employer in federal court if the company violates the anti-retaliation provisions of Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, or other applicable laws. If successful in their case, a whistleblower may be entitled to reinstatement with double back pay, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and other costs. Suppose you believe you are a victim of retaliation after blowing the whistle. In that case, it is essential to understand that not all types of retaliation are protected and that you should speak with an experienced attorney.

Classified Disclosures

“whistleblower” refers to a private or public company employee who discloses information about illegal, unsafe, or fraudulent activities. Whistleblowers may release this information to the public or a large governing body such as a government agency, a regulatory agency, a watchdog group, or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Some whistleblowers reveal classified information for transparency and to hold their employers accountable. This type of disclosure is often a source of controversy, especially when the information concerns a matter of national security. 

Federal law protects employees, former employees, and applicants for employment who report protected disclosures to their supervisor or the Inspector General of an agency from retaliation. In addition, Presidential Policy Directive 19 makes it unlawful for an agency to take any action that affects a covered person’s access to classified information or their security clearance in reprisal for making a protected disclosure.

In addition, it’s important to note that these protections do not supersede or conflict with any NDA policies, forms, or agreements that a covered person might have entered into. The rights, obligations, and duties under the statutes, Executive orders, and statutory provisions referenced above are controlling.

Confidential Disclosures

Encouraging employees to speak out without fear of reprisal can help authorities detect and deter corruption in the private and public sectors. Employees are often the first to recognize corrupt activities, such as the misuse of public funds, fraud, and waste. They can report internal safety and quality assurance complaints to their employers or file a whistleblower claim.

Many whistleblower statutes prohibit companies from retaliating against an employee should their claims be confirmed to be true. They must allow the employee to continue working and cannot demote or fire them, even if the claims result in financial losses for the company. These protections extend to contractors and subcontractors and are enforced by the courts. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act expanded whistleblower protections to include federal securities law violations. As per the legislation, if an employee reports information to the SEC that the employer reasonably believes breaches the federal securities laws, the employer is not allowed to fire, demote, suspend, or treat them in any other way that would be considered discriminatory.

Legal Options

The whistleblower laws offer several legal options to a person who exposes illegal activity. These include compensation, financial rewards, and legal protection. They also provide a process for handling disclosures and independent channels of communication. Some whistleblowers are eligible for immunity in exchange for full cooperation with the government investigation.

The law also makes it illegal for the employer to retaliate against a worker for making a whistleblowing disclosure. Sacked people can claim unfair dismissal in an Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal. This can result in a double award of two times back pay and reinstatement.

A whistleblower may claim damages for breach of contract, fraud, or malicious prosecution. This can include any loss of earnings, damage to reputation, distress, and emotional harm. They can also claim aggravated and exemplary damages.

In the US, there are several whistleblower laws to protect federal employees. These include the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. This provides excellent protection to workers who report illegal activities within the Federal Government and also imposes penalties for violations of prohibited personnel practices.

The Act also prohibits contractors, subcontractors, and grantees from retaliating against employees for making whistleblowing disclosures. It also prohibits any retaliation for disclosing gross government waste or mismanagement, an activity that threatens public health or safety, or a violation of the law.