Survey of Federal Whistleblower and Anti-Retaliation Laws

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, L. Paige Whitaker, Emily E. Roberts, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R43045, April 22, 2013

This report provides an overview of federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws. In general, these laws protect employees who report misconduct by their employers or who engage in various protected activities, such as participating in an investigation or filing a complaint. In recent years, Congress has expanded employee protections for a variety of private-sector workers. Eleven of the forty laws reviewed in this report were enacted after 1999. Among these laws are the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The report focuses on key aspects of the federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws. For each law, the report summarizes the activities that are protected, how the law’s protections are enforced, whether the law provides a private right of action, the remedies prescribed by the law, and the year the law’s whistleblower or anti-retaliation provisions were adopted and amended. With regard to amendment dates, the report identifies only dates associated with substantive amendments. For enactments after 2001, the report provides information on congressional sponsorship and votes.