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Whistleblower Law

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gave protection to employees who blew the whistle on their companies bad behavior.

Published in: Business, Career
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Whistleblower Law

  1. 1. Whistleblower ProvisionUnder the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “ARRA”
  2. 2. Whistleblower Objectives Review law Summarize actions and remedies Suggest best practicesWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 2
  3. 3. ARRA 2009 Effective February 2009 Economic stimulus package intended to provide a “jump start” to the U.S. economy in wake of the economic downturn Worth about $787 billion Includes federal tax cuts, expansion of unemployment benefits, and other provisionsWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 3
  4. 4. Whistleblower A whistleblower is a person who alleges concealed misconduct on the part of an organization or body of people, usually from within that same organizationWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 4
  5. 5. Whistleblower Examples:  False Claims Act  Big Tobacco Scandal  EnronWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 5
  6. 6. ARRA’s Whistleblower Provision Prohibits any non-federal employer receiving „covered funds‟ from firing, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against an employee in retaliation for disclosing information „Covered funds‟ are defined as any contract, grant, or other payment from the federal government or other funds appropriated or made available under ARRAWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 6
  7. 7. Protected Disclosures Gross mismanagement of an agency contract or grant relating to covered funds; Gross waste of stimulus funds; Substantial and specific danger to public health or safety through use of stimulus funds; Abuse of authority in the implementation of stimulus funds; or Violation of a law, rule, or regulation governing a contract or grant, awarded or issued relating to the stimulus funds.Whistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 7
  8. 8. Who is Covered?ARRA‟s protections extend to: Employees who report their suspicions to an official outside the organization And to those who report their suspicions internally to their employerWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 8
  9. 9. Establishing Retaliation Employee Needs to demonstrate that the protected disclosure constituted a “contributing factor” in the reprisal against the employee Can show proof by circumstantial evidence including  information regarding the decision-maker‟s knowledge of the disclosure  timing of the reprisal relative to the disclosureWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 9
  10. 10. Establishing Retaliation Employer To rebut the allegation of reprisal, employer must demonstrate with clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the action constituting the alleged retaliation in the absence of the disclosureWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 10
  11. 11. Actions and Remedies Whistleblowers may pursue a civil action in federal court, with a right to a jury trial Employee may recover uncapped compensatory damages, as well as costs, attorneys‟ fees, and expert witnesses‟ fees Claims may not be waived by agreement, policy, form, or as a condition of employment Claims are not subject to employment arbitration agreements (with the exception of collective bargaining agreements)Whistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 11
  12. 12. Organizational Impact Increase in Whistleblower activity due to the following:  Expansive list of protected disclosures  Relatively light burden of proof on the whistleblower to establish retaliation  Potential for unlimited monetary damagesWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 12
  13. 13. Best Practices Post notice of the rights and remedies relating to ARRA‟s whistleblower provision Review and update company‟s code of conduct Ensure a complaint procedure is in place Train managers and supervisors on handling complaints and emphasize no-retaliationWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 13
  14. 14. Food for Thought Will there be an increase in whistleblowing? In turn, will there be an increase in employer retaliation; therefore, more lawsuits?Whistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 14
  15. 15. Whistleblower Information For additional information go to: www.recovery.gov http://www.thevirtualhrdirector.com gary@thevirtualhrdirector.comWhistleblower © Gary Wheeler, The Virtual HR Director, LLC 15

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