Mission & History

Our Mission

NWC’s mission is to support whistleblowers in their efforts to expose and help prosecute corruption and other wrongdoing around the world.

Our History

The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) was founded in 1988 by three experienced whistleblower attorneys, Stephen M. Kohn, Michael D. Kohn and David K. Colapinto to obtain public support for whistleblowers at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.

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. NWC overcame well-financed opposition in 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 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its historic ruling banning restrictive non-disclosure agreements in corporate America.

NWC has remained dedicated to protecting all whistleblowers – regardless of industry, nationality, or type of wrongdoing. With the help of our hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters, we have achieved successes like establishing National Whistleblower Day and 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.

NWC has not only worked to ban restrictive non-disclosure agreements in all publicly traded companies, but also to establish First Amendment rights for federal workers, expanding the scope of protected activities, and protecting qui tam laws.

NWC educates whistleblowers about their rights, assists in finding them legal assistance, and provides support for high-impact whistleblower litigation.  In order to further provide services and legal assistance to whistleblowers around the world, NWC has partnered with the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund (NWLDEF), a public interest law firm which provides a secure intake process to assist whistleblowers in finding an attorney.

NWC’s achievements include:

  • Successfully advocated on behalf of the Swiss bank whistleblowers, including one who received the largest tax qui tam reward in history (Bradley Birkenfeld). 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.
  • Proposed key regulations approved by the SEC implementing the Wall Street whistleblower qui tam 
  • Advocated worldwide for the implementation of the qui tam provisions in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and False Claims Act
  • 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.
  • Supported numerous whistleblowers who won reinstatement, back pay and/or damages.

NWC is a tax-exempt, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C., dependent on public support for its work advocating for the rights of whistleblowers.

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