Sunday Read: The Gift of ‘Rules’ for Potential Whistleblowers

National Whistleblower Center
5 min readDec 25, 2023
This article was sent as part of NWC’s “Sunday Read” series that aims to educate supporters about developments in whistleblower law and current events. For more information like this, please join our mailing list.

The holiday season is upon us and its gift-giving time. While books may be a more traditional gift, they still offer immeasurable value. “There is no friend as loyal as a book,” is famously attributed to Ernest Hemingway. And we could all use a good friend these days, particularly those who feel isolated or unsure of themselves while mulling whether to come forward about someone or an organization’s fraud, abuse, or other illegal activities.

Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook For Doing What’s Right can offer the friendly guidance needed to make an informed, and possibly life-changing decision. Published by Lyons Press, while Rules is not a textbook, some circles in law, business, and government could consider it required reading. It is a guide for anyone whose work positions — or positioned — them to engage in a variety of precarious situations that could have legal repercussions.

Employment trends have emerged over the past few years — from the Great Resignation to “quiet quitting” — and anyone who left a job or was fired due to the fraudulent or unethical actions of an employer might need legal protections.

In this Sunday Read, we explore Rules for Whistleblowers and highlight some of the key points readers and potential whistleblowers should know as they mull over filing a claim.

About The Author: Stephen M. Kohn, Esq.

Rules for Whistleblowers was authored by Stephen M. Kohn, Esq. Some followers of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) may recognize Kohn as the organization’s Founder and Chairman of the Board; others might know Kohn as the founding partner at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and for securing some of most significant whistleblower and qui tam suits of the last 40 years, including winning the largest ever individual tax whistleblower reward/qui tam payment for UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld ($104 million reward), and recently securing $15.1 million for an anonymous whistleblower who provided the IRS with information about a sophisticated tax evasion scheme being carried out by high-wealth individuals.

The Format and Style of Rules

Kohn’s style is direct, using well-documented whistleblower case law and his own trailblazing experience to support and illustrate 37 rules. Kohn highlights the “traps” facing whistleblowers today and addresses how to file anonymous cases and qualify for multimillion-dollar rewards. Kohn carefully explains complex rules and laws governing whistleblowing including the Dodd-Frank, IRS, and False Claims Acts, as well as detailed strategies for fighting retaliation. He also covers controversial issues such as taping, removing documents, and ignoring nondisclosure agreements.

The Rules is also grouped into five parts, plus a conclusion:

  1. The new rules for whistleblowers;
  2. Tactics you need to know;
  3. Rewards — the laws;
  4. Retaliation — fighting back; and
  5. Checklists.

The book’s conclusion — while not a dedicated “part,” provides a pragmatic exploration of whether whistleblowers “can drive a spike through the heart of corruption.”

Highlights of Rules

One of the highlights of the book is in its writing style. Though generalities are used to kick off many of the ideas, it’s not done with hypotheticals. There are little (if any) passages where “We assume Jane Doe is the victim of retaliation by her employer…” By contrast, it is assumed that the reader already has a vested interest in filing a claim and Kohn’s presentation is direct and supported by examples, actual cases, and results.

For example, Part 3, Rule 20 delves into Foreign Corruption and Bribery. This is critical, since the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has been integral in the whistleblower arena and has resulted in more than $1 billion in sanctions, settlements, and recoveries. Whistleblowers are incentivized to come forward about these sorts of claims, as they may qualify for between 10 and 30 percent of the sanctions imposed. Kohn provides a critical overview of the FCPA’s major provisions, explaining:

  • Who is covered;
  • Jurisdictional triggers;
  • Definitions of a “prohibited bribe,” and what constitutes a bribe; and
  • The players — from public officials to third parties.

Kohn also answers the questions on many readers’ minds on topics such as retaliation and intimidation.

When discussing First Amendment use and government retaliation (Rule 28), Kohn detailed where constitutional rights were protected, such as in Sanjour v. EPA in 1992, which successfully challenged the rules instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency that restricted its employees from speaking publicly about problems within the agency.

Furthermore, Rules is written for a modern audience and addresses some of the recent laws that are already making an impact on the landscape. With the new AML-Whistleblower Improvement Act, money laundering drives many whistleblower dialogues, and Rule 21 speaks to this illegal practice, as well as cryptocurrency and virtual currency exchanges. Kohn also delves into the AML law’s highlights, drawing parallels to Dodd-Frank and offering practice tips.

Ultimately, Rules is easy to follow, especially since Kohn offers them through such a direct and easily digestible style; an employee or witness at any level will benefit from the guidance offered.

Ways to Obtain the Book

Whether you’re decorating a tree, lighting candles or gathering with friends, family or colleagues, everyone can benefit from these new Rules. There are a few ways to purchase:

Or

All proceeds from books sales and donations will benefit NWC, which is dedicated to protecting and rewarding whistleblowers around the world.

Support NWC

Did you know that NWC fights to bolster whistleblower programs and inform the public about its laws? Well, we do, and as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, our awareness building work is made possible with the support of our generous donors. Just like we mentioned before, by donating $50 today, you can support future whistleblower efforts and receive a complimentary copy of Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook For Doing What’s Right.

This story was written by Justin Smulison, a professional writer, podcaster, and event host based in New York.

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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.