Sunday Read: Celebrating Whistleblowers

This overview of whistleblower contributions was sent as part of NWC’s “Sunday Read” series that aims to educate supporters about whistleblower stories and whistleblower legislative or policy initiatives and current events. For more information like this, please join our mailing list.

National Whistleblower Day Speaker Lineup!

National Whistleblower Day is less than 2-weeks away, and this year we are celebrating with a three-day virtual event featuring experts, legislators, and whistleblowers with incredibly interesting insights. We celebrate National Whistleblower Day to recognize the important contributions whistleblowers have made to safeguarding our democracy, public health, our environment, and economic stability. July 30th marks the first action taken to protect whistleblowers in the United States, and even predates U.S. independence.

Even before the U.S. was established as a nation, the Constitutional Congress could see the value of protecting democracy — as a key to safeguarding our integrity and a duty all carry as responsible citizens. But, do you know how much whistleblowers have contributed to bettering the world as we know it today?

In this Sunday Read we will look at the incredible impact whistleblowers have had across industries and throughout our culture to make world a better place for all. NWC publishes these stories for your enjoyment every weekend and if you know someone who might enjoy reading as well, please encourage them to join our mailing list!

Five Ways Whistleblowers have Shaped Public Opinion and Policy:

Whistleblowers — people like Sherron Watkins and Bradley Birkenfeld — are often the first to reveal the risks of hazardous substances or financial crimes. As insiders and bellringers, they take great personal risks to alert the public and inspire cultural and legal reforms. Whether we treasure them or take them for granted, countless laws that keep us safe today were provided by whistleblowers who fought to bring the truth to light.

Anonymous Whistleblowers also Make a Major Impact:

While some whistleblowers become household names, countless other acts of influential public service have come from whistleblowers who are known simply as “anonymous.” Taking advantage of U.S. laws that provide anonymous reporting channels or technology that enables protected communication, many whistleblowers have shaped key debates and court cases while remaining safely out of the limelight. A $10 billion case against Chevron for Amazon oil spills was aided by “smoking gun” evidence from an anonymous whistleblower in Ecuador. Dozens of prosecutions for marine pollution can be credited to anonymous whistleblowers who took advantage of a little-known whistleblower law to quietly alert regulators. The Panama Papers investigation, which revealed global tax evasion networks, was based on a leak of 11.5 million law firm documents by a whistleblower who remains anonymous today.

Whistleblower Protections Must Continue to Improve:

Time and again, whistleblowers have taken on corrupt governments, corporate power, and environmental injustice. When the U.S. government recovered billions from oil companies who had stolen from education funds and Native American tribes, it was because whistleblowers used the False Claims Act to reveal an oil pricing conspiracy. When employees are able to successfully report gender discrimination or harassment in the federal workforce, it’s because pioneering whistleblowers blazed the trail. When the U.S. Congress passes a bill to provide new funds for safe drinking water infrastructure, it will be because whistleblowers raised the alarm about lead pipes in Flint, Michigan.

While whistleblowers can be powerful agents of change, they can’t do it alone. They need strong protections and meaningful rewards and a shift in cultural attitudes to support their disclosures and protect their identities. U.S. whistleblower laws have evolved to provide strong protections and rewards for whistleblowers reporting financial crimes, corruption, and attempts to defraud the government. Many of these laws allow whistleblowers around the world to report to U.S. regulators. However, serious gaps remain.

Loopholes, long wait times, and corporate lobbying campaigns have undermined key U.S. whistleblower laws, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the False Claims Act. Many whistleblower programs, including the Consumer Financial Protection whistleblower program, still lack the financial reward provisions necessary to incentivize and reassure would-be whistleblowers.

Sign-up for National Whistleblower Day and Support NWC:

Whistleblowers need our support now more than ever before. To commend whistleblowers for their tireless work, every year the National Whistleblower Center celebrates whistleblowers through National Whistleblower Day. This year, National Whistleblower Day will be a virtual celebration from July 28th to July 30th.

Our annual celebration of whistleblowers is the biggest project of our year and needs your support. Please donate today to help NWC raise $5,000 for National Whistleblower Day celebrations.

Don’t forget to share this informative message join our mailing list and with your friends and RSVP for National Whistleblower Day today!

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National Whistleblower Center

National Whistleblower Center is the leading nonprofit working with whistleblowers around the world to fight corruption and protect people and the environment.