Mission & History

The National Whistleblower Center (NWC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, non-partisan organization, is the leading whistleblower legal advocacy organization with an almost 30-year history of protecting the right of individuals to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation.

The National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund (NWLDEF) is a non-profit law firm that provides services to the NWC and whistleblowers from around the world.

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Our Work

Since 1988, we have provided services and advocacy on behalf of whistleblowers. Currently some of our programs are:
  • Grassroots Advocacy:
    Through the NWC Action Alert Network, we are improving protections and standing up for the brave individuals who report waste, fraud, and abuse. Sign up to receive periodic updates and calls to action. Follow the NWC on Facebook and Twitter and be the first to get news on the NWC’s grassroots campaigns.
  • Legal Advocacy:
    Attorneys affiliated with the NWC have written and filed numerous Amicus Curiae briefs in precedent-setting cases around the country. Click this link to review the Amicus Curiae briefs submitted on behalf of whistleblowers.
  • Legal Assistance:
    The NWC and the NWLDEF operate a number of legal and educational programs to provide legal aid and assistance to whistleblowers.
  • Expanding Whistleblower Rights:
    The National Whistleblower Center has played a key role in drafting and supporting major whistleblower legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. The NWC is actively involved in opposing efforts to weaken existing laws and pushing for strengthening whistleblowers laws in the area of wildlife whistleblowers, international whistleblowers and pushing for an official National Whistleblower Day.

Our History

Since 1988, whistleblowers supported by the NWC & NWLDEF have achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability. These include:

Dedicated to protecting whistleblowers, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) was founded in 1988 by three experienced whistleblower-rights attorneys, Stephen M. Kohn, Michael D. Kohn and David K. Colapinto to obtain public support for whistleblowers at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.  The NWC’s governing board included whistleblowers, public interest advocates and leading civil rights advocates, such as Dr. Dennis Brutus, who served in prison with Nelson Mandela due to his work exposing South Africa’s violation of the World Olympic Committee’s rules against discrimination in sports, and Professor Howard Zinn, who lost his tenured teaching position in the early 1960’s for supporting the civil rights advocacy of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.The NWC’s first case challenged an industry-wide practice of coercing employees to sign non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from raising safety concerns to federal regulators.  The NWC beat the nuclear industry, and one of its prime construction contractors (KBR/Brown & Root, Inc.) in Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Department of Labor and before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”).

The precedents set were groundbreaking.  All the “hush money” agreements, industry-wide, were voided.  Years later, these precedents were relied on by attorneys with the NWC to obtain a historic ruling by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission banning restrictive non-disclosure agreements in corporate America.

Since then the NWC succeeded in establishing National Whistleblower Day, adding key whistleblower protections into the Dodd-Frank qui tam law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and numerous other federal laws.  The NWC set major legal precedent not only banning restrictive non disclosure agreements in all publicly traded companies, but in establishing First Amendment rights for federal workers, expanding the scope of protected activities, and protecting qui tam laws.  The NWC played a vital role in mobilizing public support for the tax whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld, who obtained the largest qui tam/whistleblower reward in history.

The NWC is a tax-exempt, non-partisan organization, dependent on public support for its advocacy work.

Since 1988, whistleblowers supported by the NWC & NWLDEF have achieved victories for Wall Street accountability, protecting and expanding qui tam whistleblower reward laws, defending environmental and nuclear safety whistleblowers, and achieving major victories for federal employee whistleblowers and employees who expose government contract fraud.

These include:

  • Successfully advocated for the recognition of National Whistleblower Day, predicated on the historical research conducted by the NWC’s Executive Director.
  • Worked with Congress to help draft whistleblower provisions in the Dodd-Frank Corporate Whistleblower Law.
  • Proposed key regulations approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission implementing the Wall Street whistleblower qui tam law.
  • Proposed and wrote the whistleblower protection provisions incorporated into the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Successfully advocated on behalf of the Swiss bank whistleblowers, including one who the largest tax qui tam reward in history. These whistleblowers cracked open the illegal secret Swiss banking system that had permitted U.S. citizens to cheat the government out of billions of dollars in taxes.
  • Supported case of the whistleblower (Bradley Birkenfeld) whose qui tam tax case led the recovery of more than billion from delinquent taxpayers and numerous banks, crippling the ability of Swiss banks to open accounts for U.S. citizens.
  • Obtained precedent ensuring that “participants” in corporate fraud could qualify for qui tam rewards, provided that they plan and initiate the frauds.  This was essential precedent permitting lower level employees to turn in their bosses, without risking coverage under the law.
  • Obtained regulations ensuring that compliance officials, corporate directors and other officials could qualify for SEC qui tam awards.
  • Won reinstatement, back pay and/or damages for numerous wrongfully discharged whistleblowers.
  • Chosen as a Grand Prize Winner in the 2016 Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, an initiative of USAID in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC in order to establish whistleblower rights worldwide for people who expose wildlife trafficking crimes.
  • Advocated worldwide for the implementation of the qui tam provisions in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and False Claims Act, conducting whistleblower-rights trainings in countries such as Bosnia, Thailand, Israel, and Kenya.
  • Trained government officials, Members of Parliament and NGOs in order to trigger the enactment of whistleblower laws in Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia, and participated in the Prague conference that resulted in the publication of international whistleblower “best practices” now used worldwide as a blueprint for effective laws.  The NWC ensured that qui tam rights were included in these principles.
  • Helped whistleblowers hold the government accountable by effective use of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, forcing government agencies to release hundreds of thousands of pages of information documenting government misconduct, such as, abuses in the criminal justice system, environmental violations, defects in counterterrorism programs, abuses of employee privacy rights and misconduct in the FBI crime lab.

 

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