Can I rely on government published FAQs?

Can I rely on government whistleblower FAQs?

Cautiously. The U.S. government and a variety of offices publish numerous FAQs for whistleblowers. These can be extremely helpful, but they do not have the force and effect of law. No court or agency is required to follow a government whistleblower FAQ. Also, FAQs are not legal authority. 

Do FAQs provide the full story? 

Government FAQs usually do not fully explain the strategic choices available to whistleblowers. They often contain information limited to the specific laws under the jurisdiction of the agency. Given the numerous state/federal laws, whistleblowers need to be cautious that FAQs do not provide a full picture of rights or remedies available, or the best strategic approaches.

Do government FAQs inform whistleblowers of their rights to collect rewards?

Some agencies (SEC, CFTC and IRS) have FAQs that explain their reward provisions, but these are generally narrowly tailored to discuss the laws in the jurisdiction of that agency. Also, whistleblowers may be entitled to a reward under more than one reward law. Unfortunately, many government agencies do not explain the whistleblower rewards that may be available through other agencies. For example, EPA FAQs explain violations of EPA rules, but they may fail to inform that rewards could be available under different laws.

Should I review government FAQs?

Yes, reviewing FAQs on government websites is a good starting point in learning your rights as a whistleblower. However,  you must understand they are not complete, and they do not explain all of your options. 

Are there false or misleading government FAQs?

Yes, some government FAQs fail to identify which are the best whistleblower laws to protect you. 


What are the limits of this FAQ?  Is there a disclaimer concerning the information presented here?

Whistleblower laws are complex.  There are several qui tam or reward laws that can result in a whistleblower obtaining a multi-million-dollar judgment.  Each of these laws has specific filing requirements.  Additionally, there are over 50 different federal anti-retaliation laws designed to protect whistleblowers from discrimination.  Again, each of these laws has various lengths of statutes of limitation, filing procedures, and definition of a protected disclosure.

These FAQs give whistleblowers an overview of significant whistleblower qui tam, reward, or anti-retaliation laws.  They are not comprehensive.  If you believe you may have a whistleblower case, you should contact an attorney and obtain specific advice based on the facts of your case.  You cannot rely only on the information in this FAQ to determine whether or not you have a valid claim.

A critical resource for those thinking of blowing the whistle is The New Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press 2017).  The Handbook contains a detailed discussion on all major whistleblower laws and has extensive citations to legal cases and statutes the protect whistleblowers.  It is an invaluable resource.

Because of the complexity of the whistleblower laws, we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this FAQ.  The FAQ is a summary guide to understanding your rights. You should contact an attorney with expertise in whistleblowing before you make a disclosure. You must know your rights before you “blow the whistle,” so you can ensure that your conduct will be protected.

Can the whistleblower attorneys working at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto help me?

The whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto has a straightforward intake process.  It is available here.  Every intake is confidential, and the information provided protected under the attorney-client privilege. A senior partner at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto reads each intake submission.

The intake process is free of charge.

Unfortunately, KKC receives many more requests for assistance then it can handle and must turn away many qualified whistleblowers.  If KKC cannot represent you, you still may have a solid case.

If KKC believes you may have a case with which it can help you, you will receive a follow-up call or email to obtain more information and determine whether or not our firm can represent you.  Until you have a signed written agreement with the firm, we are not your attorneys (although all of the information you provide to us is privileged and confidential).  Almost all of our cases are on a contingency fee basis.

Whistleblower Attorneys

Stephen M. Kohn – Founding Partner

Michael D. Kohn – Founding Partner

David K. Colapinto – Founding Partner

Mary Jane Wilmoth – Managing Partner

Todd Yoder – Associate Attorney

Kelsey Condon – Associate Attorney

Maraya Best – Associate Attorney

Siri Nelson – Legal Fellow

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