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Report No. 179

(D) United States of America: The Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 1989 (as amended in 1994):

Before we refer to the Federal enactment, namely the Federal Whistle Blower Protection Act, 1989 and other State statutes, we may briefly refer to the previous history in USA.

The False Claims Act, 1863 (revised in 1986) was enacted to combat fraud by suppliers to the federal government during the civil war. Under that Act, whistle blowers could receive a percentage of the money recovered or damages suffered by the government in fraud cases they exposed. There were provisions for protection of whistle blowers even in the Civil Services Reforms Act, 1978 from reprisals.

The Civil Services Reforms Act of 1978 was not able to remedy several forms of reprisals such as transfers to 'bureaucratic Siberia', elimination of duties, career paralysis, reprimand etc. Between 1978 and 1989, when the present Act was passed, even the federal Office of Special Counsel was not supportive of the whistle blowers effectively. Things 78 became better only after the 1989 Act and more so after the recent amendments of 1994 (see 'The Whistle blower Protection Act of 1989: Foundation for the Modern Law of Employment Dissent' by Thomas M. Devine, vol. 51, Administrative Law Review (1999), p.531).

It appears that there are more than a hundred similar statutes in the various States in US which protect different classes of whistle blowers. In some of the States the protection is extended to employees in the private sector also. Some of these laws also deal with the 'right to disobey' illegal orders of superiors. (see "State Whistle Blowers' Statutes and the Future of Whistle Blowers Protection" by Robert G. Vaughn, in Administrative Law Review (1999), Vol.51, page 582).

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