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A whistleblower is someone who reports government and company corruption or illegal behavior to law enforcement agencies while being protected from persecution and possible legal prosecution later. To become a whistleblower in the United States, the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has a secure online website where whistleblowers are required to register and state the facts of their case. In the United States, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPA) of 2007 was an expansion on the original act to include national security issues and those relating to government contractors and science agencies. It also expanded on the original protections for a whistleblower working as a federal employee.
When considering reporting company fraud or to report government fraud, a whistleblower in the US should also take time to review the 18 legal acts that are governed by whistleblower or retaliation statutes. These acts cover a wide range of potentially illegal activities, some of which are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Clayton Act governing antitrust law, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. Together, the acts are meant to address everything from environmental pollution to discrimination in the workplace, from company corruption to safety and health violations.
Administration of whistleblower protection in the United States is done through the federal Office of Whistleblower Protection Program (OWPP), which is run by the Department of Labor (DOL) through its Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) branch. These safety and protection provisions for whistleblowers are often affected by state laws as well. OSHA, however, is responsible for seeing that 21 statutes governing complaints of retaliation from whistleblowers on everything from labor relations to national transit systems are taken seriously. Reporting fraud should start with filing a complaint with the local OSHA office immediately, as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) only allows for 30 days to report discrimination once it happens.
In the European Union, research into member nation whistleblower protections began in 2009. Ten European countries were chosen in order to perform a comprehensive review of current laws, so that an approach to improving protection for whistleblowers on a European Union wide scale could be implemented. The nations chosen for the investigation were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, and Ireland, as well as Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia. The results of the study were combined with legislative practices in other member nations and modernization of whistleblower protections is ongoing.
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