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The Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself

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"Don't let your boss catch you reading it."

-Wall Street Journal




The Whistleblower's Handbook (3rd Edition)

By Stephen M. Kohn
Lyons Press (2013)

About the book:


Special Offer

When you make a donation of $15 or more to support the National Whistleblower Center you will receive a copy of The Whistleblower’s Handbook as our gift. Donate Now!



Every single day, thousands of American workers report fraud, violations of environmental rules, health and safety hazards, and political corruption. When done right, whistleblowing has strengthened democracy, protected the environment, and saved taxpayers and investors from huge financial losses.

Now, from the world's leading whistleblower attorney, comes the first-ever consumer guide to whistleblowing. The Handbook sets forth twenty-one basic rules every potential whistleblower needs to know. With The Whistleblower's Handbook, Stephen Martin Kohn has become the first author to not only explain American laws regarding whistleblowing, but also to provide a guide for how whistleblowers around the world can protect themselves using the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Whistleblower's Handbook is the authoritative reference for anyone who has ever wondered how they might blow the whistle - and, once they've done so, how to prevail.





Renowned Whistleblowers Host Book Signing Party for Stephen Kohn


What's New in the Third Edition?

The Third Edition is revised and updated through February 2013. Included are new sections and updates on:

* The historic Birkenfeld $104 million dollar reward

* The newly enacted Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

* Reward under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The Whistleblower's Handbook includes a 20-page Q&A on the Dodd-Frank Act rewards provisions. This section explains the SEC's regulations that went into effect on August 11, 2011, and provides insights on how to maximize potential rewards.

The Whistleblower's Handbook also explains how whistleblowers can use the Dodd-Frank Act to blow the whistle on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Readers learn how whistleblowers anywhere in the world can now submit anonymous reward claims for reporting corruption of local officials.

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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface: What to Do if the Boss Is a Crook
  • Introduction: Tough Questions Facing Every American Worker
  • Rule 1: Understand the Maze
  • Rule 2: Follow the Money
  • Rule 3: Yes, You Are a Whistleblower
  • Rule 4: Find the Best Federal Law
  • Rule 5: Don't Forget State Laws
  • Rule 6: Always Ask: Is the Taxpayer on the Hook?
  • Rule 7: Check for Tax Cheats, the IRS Qui Tam
  • Rule 8: Know Dodd and Frank: Securities and Commodities Qui Tam Claims
  • Rule 9: If Working for the Government, Use the First Amendment
  • Rule 10: Make Sure Disclosures Are Protected
  • Rule 11: Beware of "Hotlines"
  • Rule 12: Cautiously Use "Self-Help" Tactics
  • Rule 13: Be Prepared for the Lid to Blow
  • Rule 14: Delay is Deadly
  • Rule 15:Get the Proof Needed to Win the Case
  • Rule 16: Get to the Jury
  • Rule 17: Win the Case: Prove Motive and Pretext
  • Rule 18: Get Every Penny Deserved
  • Rule 19: Make the Boss Pay Attorney Fees
  • Rule 20: Don't Take "Hush Money"
  • Rule 21: Never Forget: Whistleblowing Works
  • Conclusion: Whistleblowing and the American Dream
  • Checklist1: Whistleblower Reward Laws (Qui Tam)
  • Checklist2: Whistleblower Protections Under Federal Law
  • Checklist 3: Whistleblower Protections Under State Common Law
  • Checklist 4: What to Look for When Blowing the Whistle on Fraud Against the Government
  • Checklist 5: Proof of Retaliation
  • Checklist 6: Discovery in Whistleblower Cases: Obtaining the Evidence Needed to Win a Case Against an Employer
  • Checklist 7: Dodd-Frank Act "Q&As"
  • Annotated Chapter Sources
  • Resources for Whistleblowers
  • Index



The Whistleblower's Handbook is a “vastly shrewd and practical” tool that “offers an astute long view of American whistle-blowing.”--The Boston Globe 

"If you're among the 34% of Americans who have seen wrongdoing at their job, you may want to add this book to your Christmas wish list.

Just don't let your boss catch you reading it." --The Wall Street Journal

"In a mix of anecdote, legal history, compendium of relevant laws and practical handbook, Stephen Kohn tries to steer both would-be whistleblowers and corporate compliance officers through what he calls a 'labyrinth'." --Financial Times

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Media Coverage

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"Whistleblowers should read The Whistleblower’s Handbook. Its twenty-one rules lay out the game plan for holding institutions accountable while protecting your job."
-Michael Radutzky, Senior Producer 60 Minutes

"Kohn is a feared litigator in government and corporate circles"
-John Solomon, News and Investigations Editor, Newsweek/The Daily Beast

"For the past 25 years, Kohn's been in the trenches fighting the whistleblower wars. The lessons learned from those wars have been distilled in this book."
-Corporate Crime Reporter

"[The Handbook] is the single best volume collection of all laws, rights and obligations related to whistle-blowing that I have come across.""
-Thomas R. Fox, FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

"Based on the complex and illogical array of whistleblower legislation, it is astounding that anyone undertakes to do the right thing and report malfeasance to the authorities.  Yet, Stephen Kohn has written an inspiring and optimistic report on the state of whistle flowing in the US and guides us through the complexities of risking our own comfort by blowing the whistle in 21 rules.
"The Whistleblower's Handbook is replete with compelling and little-known stories alongside the more typical, highly-publicized tabloid fodder.  A particularly sobering account of whistleblowers in the earliest days of our republic and the moral imperative that protected them will make readers yearn for a way to protect ourselves in the same way as the Founding Fathers protected a group of seamen during the Revolution. The wise reader will pay heed to Kohn's short list of rules when performing her moral duty."
-Gina Vega, Professor of Management at the Bertolon School of Business, Salem State University, Author of Moral Courage in Organizations: Doing the Right Thing at Work

"The Whistleblower's Handbook opens a window into the controversial but vital role of whistleblowers in America's workplace dating from the days of the Civil War.  With compelling insider details, practical "rules" and rare insights, Stephen Kohn, the country's leading whistleblower expert, has created the essential overview for CEO's, CFO's, GC's, chief compliance officers, HR and audit professionals, and others who should be knowledgeable about this fundamental aspect of corporate life."  
-Donna Boehme, former Group Compliance and Ethics Officer, BP plc, and Principal, Compliance Strategists LLC

"This book arms the whistleblower with the vital ammunition needed to effectively document corruption, while guiding them in how to protect their families, reputations and careers."
-Linda Tripp, White House Whistleblower

"Whistleblowers need this Handbook!"
-Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, FBI Crime Lab Whistleblower

"As a whistleblower who has successfully won a case against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), I can attest to the fact that this is the definitive Bible for whistleblowers.  Written by Stephen Kohn, the premiere whistleblower attorney in the United States, this handbook contains everything you will need to know about blowing the whistle, and surviving."
-Jane Turner, FBI Whistleblower and 25 year veteran agent

"I hope that employees of every defense contractor use the book to ensure that taxpayers are not robbed by unscrupulous corporations."
-Bunnatine Greenhouse, Army Corps of Engineers Whistleblower

"Steve has written a first-rate handbook for workers who have witnessed egregious examples of waste, fraud or abuse which they know should be reported to the authorities but who are afraid of losing their jobs if they do.  The handbook tells them of the many laws and services available to them, which if understood and used intelligently, can not only protect a whistleblower from losing his job, but can even led to cash rewards under some circumstances."
-William Sanjour, EPA Whistleblower

"As the courageous whistleblower who faced fierce opposition and exposed the largest tax scandal in US history . . . this invaluable reference guide will help any future whistleblower navigate the treacherous international waters of ensuring what is done is done 100% right."
-Brad Birkenfeld, UBS Whistleblower

"Finally -- the "how-to" guide for whisteblowers. This is a much-needed step-by-step explanation for anyone thinking about speaking out against fraud and corruption. Whistleblowers will avoid a lot of tears from the book's checklists and do's and don't's. Written in clear and understandable language this book should be in the bottom drawer of anyone thinking about blowing the whistle -- and on the desk for managers who want to improve compliance."
-Dean Zerbe, columnist, National Managing Director of AlliantGroup, LP

"Steve Kohn's book The Whistleblower's Handbook provides a great service to current and would-be whistleblowers and to our citizenry by providing a comprehensive guide to exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in both the private and public sectors.  It effectively acts as a compass and detailed avoidance map to help navigate whistleblowers through the retaliatory minefields they may already have entered, or will soon face."
-Russ Tice, Former Intelligence Officer, (NSA) National Security Agency

"Written by the foremost authority on the subject, The Whistleblower's Handbook is extraordinarily user-friendly and extremely easy to read. Every worker bears a responsibility to guard the public interest. Like no other resource, this book places the power of the law squarely in the hands of America's workforce." 
-David L. Lewis, Ph.D., EPA Whistleblower

"This book highlights citizen empowerment and true grassroots democracy in action. As a whistleblower, I know the power of speaking the truth and the unfortunate consequences for those who do. Every American should read this book."
-Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Founder of No FEAR Coalition


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