As recently reported by the New York Times, whistleblower programs have been an unqualified success for the government in 2014, assisting in a record return of $5.69 billion.
The government is now trying to expand this success to new areas. For example, on November 20, 2014, a new Senate bill was introduced to create an automobile safety whistleblower program whereby whistleblowers could report a “defect, noncompliance, or any violation or alleged violation of any notification or report requirement” related to safety.
As presently drafted, the law would permit any “employee or contractor of a motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership” to report safety issues that are “likely to cause unreasonable risk of death or serious physical injury” and receive an award up to 30% of any sanctions collected from the wrongdoer.
Importantly, should the bill become law, it would allow whistleblowers to receive part of what the government recovers “regardless of whether the violation underlying the covered action occurred prior to the date of enactment of this Act.”
As you might recall, major automobile manufacturers and part suppliers have had enormous safety issues in the past few years involving bad ignition switches, faulty airbags, and unintended acceleration, just to name a few. If this bill becomes law, it will provide a new route for employees of these companies to not only recover money on behalf of the government, but also have the unique opportunity to save lives.
We’ll track this bill and let you know what happens next. If you have any questions about this post or whistleblower law in general, feel free to contact us.