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7520 : Whistle-Blower Laws & Individuals Protected
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Memo 7520-1-3: Whistle-Blower Laws & Individuals Protected TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is whistle-blower claims protection?
When are employees considered whistle-blowers and protected from discipline?
May a company fire employees for reporting company activities to the government?
May a company transfer a whistle-blower to another job?
Under what circumstances do employees lose their whistle-blower protection?
Are employees protected as whistle-blowers if they participated in the wrong-doing?
View all questions for this Memo

Note: This Memo applies to all employees, whether exempt, non-exempt, full-time, part-time, temporary, new, or regular.1


Employees have a right to report illegal activities that occur in the workplace. From here on, "whistle-blowing" refers to employees reporting to their company or to a government agency suspected wrongdoing committed by the company, prior employers, or co-workers. See Memo 7525 Types of Protected Whistle-Blower Conduct.

        Note: There are various whistle-blowing laws that may apply depending on the particular violation reported by employees and to what agency the report was made. This Memo discusses issues that are common to most whistle-blower laws. If you have questions about a particular situation, you should consult an employment lawyer.

        Example: In response to a number of financial scandals, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This law prohibits most public companies from discharging or discriminating against employees who provide information or assist in proceedings that may involve:2

        • mail fraud, wire fraud, or bank fraud;
        • a violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission's rules or regulations; or
        • a violation of any federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.
        Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, employees are protected whistle-blowers when they assist in investigations by Congress, federal agencies, or in internal company investigations by someone with supervisory authority over the employee or the authority to investigate misconduct.

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