Concepts and Procedures in Whistleblower Law

By Stephen M. Kohn | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Overview of a Whistleblower
Claim: A Step-by-Step Approach

Over the past fifty years, a growing national consensus has recognized that whistleblowers positively contribute to society1 and need protection against retaliation.2 Despite this consensus, one of the most surprising features in whistleblower law is the absence of a national whistleblower protection statute. Unlike other areas of labor relations, such as age discrimination, race discrimination, and discrimination against union members, there is no uniform national law that protects whistleblowers.3 Instead of a national law that can be readily understood, there are over thirty separate federal statutes or constitutional provisions governing various types of whistleblowing, and each state has developed its own common law or statutory approach to whistleblower protection. Given the numerous potential laws that may govern any specific act of whistleblowing, and the radical differences in the protections available under these laws, any analysis of how to properly "blow the whistle" must start with a step-by-step review of the key factors that underlie whistleblower cases.


A STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH

Step 1: Identifying a Remedy

The first step in reviewing a case is to determine what statutes or common law actions may be applicable to the employee&s whistleblowing. For example, if an employee working in the private sector blew the whistle in Louisiana on the dumping of toxic waste into the Mississippi River, that

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