Whistleblowers in 2020

whistleblower developments

In 2020, it seemed as though whistleblowers were in the news more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic was, of course, the year’s biggest news story, and whistleblowers played an important role throughout its development. Early on, whistleblowers in China warned of the dangers of the virus before facing retaliation from government officials. In the United States, whistleblower Rick Bright was an outspoken critic of the government’s response to the crisis. Countless other COVID whistleblowers have risked their safety and livelihoods to expose COVID-related safety issues or mismanagement of COVID relief funds. The COVID pandemic has reinforced how important whistleblowers are to society, but it has also highlighted how much work needs to be done to ensure that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation and their disclosures are taken seriously. For example, a September report from the U.S. Department of Labor found that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) needs to drastically improve its handling of whistleblower complaints.

Whistleblowers have played a central role in other top news stories of 2020. Amid nationwide protests against white supremacy and police brutality, police whistleblowers broke from the police “culture of silence” to report on police brutality and other forms of misconduct. For example, a Compton police officer whistleblower exposed the existence of a brutal gang within the Los Angeles Police Department. Similarly, whistleblowers throughout the federal government have come forward in 2020 with allegations of misconduct and corruption. In one case, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official blew the whistle on officials in the DHS pressuring analysts to change intelligence reports to align with the White House’s agenda.

In addition to these major overarching stories of 2020, it was a big year for whistleblowers in a number of other ways. The 2020 fiscal year was a record year for both the SEC and CFTC whistleblower programs. In October, the SEC issued a $114 million whistleblower award – the largest in program history. A number of key whistleblower-related court decisions were also issued in 2020. For example, a November ruling by a D.C. District Court judge closed a key loophole in the False Claims Act.

Whistleblowers are more important to Americans now than ever before, as evidenced by a 2020 Marist poll commissioned by WNN. The results showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans support increased protections for corporate and federal whistleblowers. Support was strong across demographic lines and political affiliations, proving that Americans care about supporting and protecting people who are brave enough to stand up to fraud and corruption. 

Here are some of the top whistleblower stories of 2020:

Exit mobile version