Protecting Food. Empowering Whistleblowers.

Laws, Rules and Regulations

Here is a list of laws that include whistleblower protections for government or private workers along the food supply. If you’re a whistleblower, find out which of these laws may apply to you by taking our Know Your Rights questionnaire.


  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who attempt to stop violations of the Clean Water Act, which governs the discharge of pollutants into bodies of surface water including streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans.
  • Protects employees who testify or participate in proceedings related to, or who complain to management about, violations of the CWA.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Reinstatement, compensation (including back pay), attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • Strengths: Protects disclosures to management as well as to regulators.
  • Weaknesses: Initial complaints must be filed within 30 days of the retaliatory act. Employee must prove that whistleblowing was the “predominant motivating factor” for the retaliatory action, and not just a contributing factor.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who attempt to stop fraud against the federal government.
  • Protects employees who are fired or retaliated against for attempting to stop their employer from making a false financial claim to the federal government or to a government contractor.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Reinstatement with accrued seniority, two times back pay plus interest, and compensation for special damages including costs and attorneys’ fees.
  • Strengths: Employee does not have to prove actual fraud, only that they tried to stop a violation of the FCA. Exceptional recovery for whistleblower, plus attorneys’ fees.
  • Weaknesses: It only applies to disclosures involving fraud against the federal government. Retaliation suit can be cost-prohibitive unless brought in conjunction with a qui tam suit. Employee must prove that whistleblowing was the “predominant motivating factor” for the retaliatory action, and not just a contributing factor.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits government from retaliating against public employees who speak out on matters of public concern.
  • Protects public employees (e.g. federal, state, county, municipal, etc.) who speak out on matters of public concern.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Reinstatement and other non-monetary relief. Availability of monetary relief varies depending on defendant.
  • Strengths: Protects federal and state government employees.
  • Weaknesses: The employee must be speaking or engaging in conduct outside the scope of his/her employment. Statute of limitations varies depending on state law.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits retaliation against employees who attempt to stop violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or who refuse to perform duties the employee reasonably believes violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  • Protects employees of entities engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding or importation of food who, either at their own initiative or in the ordinary course of their duties, provide or are about to provide to the employer, the Federal Government, or the Attorney General of a state, information relating to violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or relating to acts or omissions the employee reasonably believes violate the Act. Also prohibits retaliation against employees of such entities who testify in, assist, or participate in proceedings concerning violations of the Act, or who object or refuse to participate in practices the employee reasonably believes violate the Act.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Abatement of the violation, reinstatement, back pay, consequential damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • Strengths: Attorneys’ fees available.
  • Weaknesses: Only protects “employees.” Employees have 180 days from the violation to file a complaint. If an employee’s complaint is found to be frivolous or in bad faith, the employee may be liable for attorneys’ fees and costs up to $1000.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits contractors, subcontractors, or grantees from discharging, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against employees as reprisal for disclosing information of misconduct relating to a Federal contract or Federal funds.
  • Protects employees of contractors, subcontractors, or grantees who disclose information that he/she reasonably believes is evidence of gross mismanagement; gross waste of federal funds; abuse of authority; substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; or violation of law, rule, or regulation relating to Federal contract or grant.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Abatement of reprisal, reinstatement, compensatory damages (including back pay and employment benefits), all costs and expenses reasonably incurred (including attorneys’ fees and expert witnesses’ fees).
  • Strengths: Attorneys’ fees and expert witnesses’ fees available.
  • Weaknesses: Employees must bring complaint within 3 years of the date of the alleged reprisal. Only protects employees who disclose information to Members of Congress or their representatives, an Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, Federal employees responsible for contract oversight, authorized officials at Department of Justice or other law enforcement agency, court or grand jury, and management officials or other contractor, subcontractor, or grantee employees who are responsible for investigation, discovery, and addressing misconduct.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who attempt to stop violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which regulates employment conditions relating to occupational safety and health.
  • Protects employees who file a complaint, institute a proceeding, or testify in a proceeding related to a violation of the Occupational Safety & Health Act, or who exercise any right afforded by the Act.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Back-pay, punitive damages, injunctive relief.
  • Strengths: Covers federal and private sector employees.
  • Weaknesses: Complaints must be filed within 30 days of the alleged violation.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits publicly traded companies from retaliating against employees who disclose information pertaining to violations of the laws, rules and regulations enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Protects employees of publicly traded companies who disclose information pertaining to violations of the laws, rules and regulations enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or who file, cause to be filed, testify in, participate in, or otherwise assist in a proceeding filed or about to be filed relating to a violation of the securities laws.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Reinstatement; back pay; interest on back pay; litigation costs; expert witness fees; and reasonable attorney fees.
  • Strengths: Attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs are recoverable.
  • Weaknesses: Employee must have a “reasonable belief” that the information disclosed pertains to a violation of the securities laws and regulations.
  • Text of the law

  • Prohibits federal employees from taking or threatening to take a personnel action against an employee or applicant because of any disclosure of information that the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences misconduct.
  • Protects federal employees and applicants who disclose information they reasonably believe evidences any violation of any law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; waste of funds; abuse of authority; or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, so long as the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law or required to be kept secret by Executive Order.
  • Protections/Remedies offered: Compensatory damages, economic damages, out-of-pocket medical costs, attorneys’ fees, reinstatement, reversal of suspension, modification of performance evaluation, and fees, costs, or damages reasonably incurred due to a retaliatory investigation.
  • Strengths: Protects disclosures made to a supervisor or person who participated in the event or activity the employee or applicant is disclosing. Protects disclosures revealing information that had been previously disclosed, disclosures not made in writing, and disclosures made while employee was off duty. Protects disclosures regardless of the amount of time that passed since the event and the disclosure and regardless of the employee’s or applicant’s motivation for disclosure.
  • Weaknesses: Employee or applicant must show that they had a “reasonable belief” of wrongdoing based on their relevant training and expertise at the time of the disclosure.
  • Text of the law

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