Whistleblowing isn’t an issue most lawyers deal with, particularly those of us whose practices involve the daily issues of life — car accidents, workplace injuries, interpretation of contracts and insurance policies, probate and estate planning, family law, and the more commonplace areas of criminal law.
But it’s fertile ground for crime writers, especially writers of thrillers where plots may turn on issues with national or international consequences. An article in a recent issue of NWLawyer, a publication of the Washington State Bar Association, titled “Whistleblower Update: Recent Court Decisions Broaden Whistleblower Protections,” suggests that the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank bill related to finance and securities are likely to stay in force, at least for a few years. It discusses the bounty program, providing rewards to those who share certain information with the SEC or other agencies, and the anti-retaliation provision, and recent case law.
If someone’s blowing the whistle in your pages, take a look.
(And don’t worry: The author is a lawyer but it’s well-written — you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand it!)
Though I write historical fiction, I am a faithful reader of Lawandfiction. I am writing a whistleblower short story now. The date is 1873, not much, if any, protection there. He had better tread carefully.
Indeed. That is a time ripe for confrontation, corruption, and great risk — have fun!
As a practicing chiropractor, I have to sit down every year and train my staff on Federal Healthcare Fraud, Waste and Abuse policies, which also contain whistle blower protections.
This has always given me pause, as I know stories where doctors were accused of Fraud by a disgruntled employee and then spent years and tens of thousands of dollars to ultimately be vindicated.
Whistle blower protection is a two way street. Those that might not file a frivolous claim feel emboldened because by the time they are proven wrong, they are long gone, yet the damage is done to the accused either way.
Great point for novelists and other fiction writers: is there another motive, a nefarious one, behind the whistle-blower’s actions? And what are the consequences — for major and minor characters?