Whistleblower Definitions

Origins of the term whistleblower

The term “whistleblower” derives from the practice of English bobbies who would blow their whistle when they noticed the commission of a crime, which alerted both law enforcement officers and the general public of danger.

Origins of the term Qui Tam

Qui Tam is taken from the Latin phrase “He who sues for the king, as well as for himself.”

Origins of the federal False Claims Act

It was signed by Abraham Lincoln in response to military contractors selling defective products to the Union Army. The federal False Claims Act allows private citizens to sue on the government’s behalf. The government has the option to sign on, with all plaintiffs receiving a percentage of monetary damages, which are tripled in these suits.

Whistleblower Retaliation – 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8) 

A federal employee authorized to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action may not take, fail to take, or threaten to take any personnel action against an employee because of protected whistleblowing.

Protected whistleblowing: 

Disclosing information which the person making the disclosure reasonably believes evidences:

1. a violation of law, rule, or regulation;

2. gross mismanagement;

3. gross waste of funds;

4. an abuse of authority;

5. a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

In the United States, legal protections vary depending on the subject matter of the whistleblowing and the legal jurisdiction where the case arises. The first U.S. law adopted specifically to protect whistleblowers was the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912, which guaranteed the right of federal employees to furnish information to Congress.

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