There is no single whistleblower protection or reward law in the United States. Laws vary from state to state, and the federal government has also enacted over sixty different laws with whistleblower provisions.
Each law is different, and some are stronger than others. The level of protection or the amount of rewards for whistleblowers is contingent on the type of position they hold, the type of fraud they exposed, and where they live.
Each law has its own statutes of limitation, otherwise known as a filing deadline, and its own procedure for filing a claim or lawsuit. Statutes of limitations range from periods as short as 30 days to multiple years.
For whistleblower protection laws, the filing deadline begins as soon as the employee is notified of adverse action, such as termination or disciplinary action – not their last day of work.
For filing under a reward law, the deadlines are also complicated. All of the rewards laws emphasize being “first to file”: whoever files first is the only person with a right to the compensation claim. What this means in practice is that it’s not just the deadline under statute of limitations that matters, but also filing quickly so as not to lose the “first to file” position.
Due to the range of deadlines across laws, it’s critical that whistleblowers act early to identify the best legal protections for their case. Below, there’s a summary of the statute of limitations for retaliation cases, along with links to the “first to file” guidelines for key rewards laws like the False Claims Act and the SEC whistleblower program rules.
Whistleblower laws are complex, and it is recommended that whistleblowers consult with a qualified attorney before acting on any information about potential wrongdoing. Through its Legal Assistance Program, the National Whistleblower Center helps connect would-be whistleblowers to attorneys specializing in whistleblower law.