Rules for Whistleblowers

Rules for Whistleblowers - Written by Stephen M. Kohn


This essential guide explains nearly all federal and state laws regarding whistleblowing, and in the step-by-step bulk of the book, presents more than twenty must-follow rules for whistleblowers―from finding the best federal and state laws to the dangers of blindly trusting internal corporate “hotlines” to obtaining the proof you need to win the case.

“The Whistleblower’s Handbook is the authoritative reference for anyone who has ever wondered how they might blow the whistle – and, once they’ve done so, how to prevail.”

Stephen Kohn, Nation’s Top Whistleblower Attorney

Whats Inside The Handbook

Learn how whistleblowers have saved lives, stopped frauds, protected their jobs, and earned million-dollar rewards for doing the right thing. Rules for Whistleblowers is Stephen M. Kohn’s seventh book on whistleblowing and is a fully updated and expanded revision of The Whistleblower’s Handbook, the first-ever comprehensive consumer guide to exposing workplace wrongdoing. Kohn’s thirty-five rules highlight the “traps” facing whistleblowers today and address how to file anonymous cases and qualify for multi-million-dollar rewards. Kohn carefully explains complex rules governing laws including the Dodd-Frank, IRS, and False Claims Acts, as well as detailed strategies for fighting retaliation. He also covers controversial issues such as taping, removing documents, and ignoring nondisclosure agreements.

Part I: The New Rules for Whistleblowers

  • Introduction: The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Whistleblowing
  • Rule 1: In with the New—Out with the Old!
  • Rule 2: Be Confidential
  • Rule 3: Don’t Leave Money on the Table
  • Rule 4: “It Takes a Rogue to Catch a Rogue”
  • Rule 5: Avoid the Traps
  • Rule 6: Think Globally

Part II: Tactics You Need to Know

  • Rule 7: Protect Yourself
  • Rule 8: Document, Document, Document
  • Rule 9: Should You Tape
  • Rule 10: Beware of “Hotlines”
  • Rule 11: Company Lawyers are Not on Your Side
  • Rule 12: Don’t Tip Off the Crooks
  • Rule 13: What To Do If You are a Director, Partner, or Auditor
  • Rule 14: Don’t Fear NDAs
  • Rule 15: Weigh the Costs and Benefits of Talking to the Press

Part III: Rewards—The Laws

  • Rule 16: Follow the Money
  • Rule 17: The False Claims Act Reborn—With a Vengeance
  • Rule 18: Tax Evasion, and Underpayments: Report to the IRS
  • Rule 19: Dodd-Frank (Securities & Commodities): Report to the SEC/CFTC
  • Rule 20: Foreign Corruption & Bribery: Report to SEC/CFTC
  • Rule 21: Anti-Money Laundering: Report to FinCEN/Treasury
  • Rule 22: Auto Safety: Report to the Department of Transportation
  • Rule 23: Whistleblowing on the High Seas: Report to the Coast Guard
  • Rule 24: Wildlife Trafficking, IUU Fishing, and Deforestation: Report to Fish and Wildlife or NOAA
  • Rule 25: Don’t Think Small

Part IV: Retaliation—Fighting Back

  • Rule 26: Find the Federal Law that Works
  • Rule 27: Don’t Forget State Laws
  • Rule 28: Government Workers: Use the First Amendment
  • Rule 29: Federal Employees: Use the WPA
  • Rule 30: The Danger Zone: National Security Whistleblowing
  • Rule 31: Get to the Jury
  • Rule 32: Make Sure Disclosures are Protected
  • Rule 33: Conduct Discovery
  • Rule 34: Prove Motive and Pretext
  • Rule 35: Use the Power of The Truth
  • Rule 36: Get Every Penny Deserved
  • Rule 37: Make Boss Pay Attorneys Fees
  • Conclusion: Why Whistleblowing Works

What Critics are Saying

What the Press and Experts are Saying

“The top ten books about whistleblowers.” – PEN Center, USA

“Vastly shrewd and practical, but it also offers an astute long view of American whistle-blowing.” – The Boston Globe

“If you’re among the 34% of Americans who have seen wrongdoing at their job, you may want to add this book to your Christmas wish list. Just don’t let your boss catch you reading it.” – The Wall Street JournalRead Writeup

“[The Handbook] is the single best volume collection of all laws, rights, and obligations related to whistleblowing that I have come across.” – Thomas R. FoxFCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

“The ultimate legal guide to protecting yourself.” – PEN Center, USA, Selected by the Pen Center as one of the “top ten books about whistleblowers.”

Finally — the “how-to” guide for whistleblowers. This is a much-needed step-by-step explanation for anyone thinking about speaking out against fraud and corruption. Whistleblowers will avoid a lot of tears from the book’s checklists and dos and don’ts. Written in clear and understandable language, this book should be in the bottom drawer of anyone thinking about blowing the whistle — and on the desk for managers who want to improve compliance. – Dean Columnist

“The Whistleblower’s Handbook opens a window into the controversial but vital role of whistleblowers in America’s workplace dating from the days of the Civil War. With compelling insider details, practical “rules” and rare insights, Stephen Kohn, the country’s leading whistleblower expert, has created the essential overview for CEO’s, CFO’s, GC’s, chief compliance officers, HR and audit professionals, and others who should be knowledgeable about this fundamental aspect of corporate life.” – Donna BoehmeFounder Compliance Strategists LLC

“Whistleblowing handbook points up some serious pitfalls.” – The Washington Times

“This comprehensive and well researched…. book by Kohn is an invaluable tool and guide to anyone finding themselves in the crosshairs of retaliation because of their whistleblowing.” – East County Magazine

“If you are a Chief Compliance Officer [this] is a gift you may wish to give yourself.” – Mark Worth, European Center for Whistleblower Rights

“If you are a Chief Compliance Officer [this] is a gift you may wish to give yourself.” – FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

“Security directors who want to increase the chances that insiders will have the courage to come forward should consider purchasing and distributing copies of this book.” –

“Whistleblowers should read The Whistleblower’s Handbook. Its twenty-one rules lay out the game plan for holding institutions accountable while protecting your job.” – Michael Radutzky, Senior Producer 60 Minutes

“Whether you are a corporate crime defense counsel, a worker thinking on turning in your crooked boss, or a whistleblower’s lawyer – we recommend you pick up this book.” – Corporate Crime Reporter

What the Whistleblowers are Saying

“With the Holy Bible in one hand and Mr. Kohn’s Whistleblower Handbook in the other, my wife crushed a powerful corporation.” – Jim Gunther, pro se representative Gunther v. Deltek

“The only lawyer still on my side was Stephen Kohn…he was as smart as they come and feisty as a pit bull. Steve was convinced the government owed me a fat reward, and he was going to get it or die trying.” – Bradley Birkenfeld

“Whistleblowers need this Handbook!” – Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, FBI Crime Lab Whistleblower

“Steve has written a first-rate handbook for workers who have witnessed egregious examples of waste, fraud or abuse which they know should be reported to the authorities but who are afraid of losing their jobs if they do. The handbook tells them of the many laws and services available to them, which if understood and used intelligently, can not only protect a whistleblower from losing his job, but can even led to cash rewards under some circumstances.” – William Sanjour, EPA Whistleblower

“As a National Security whistleblower, I am very familiar with the plight of those who dare to expose corruption, fraud, waste and abuse…I am more than certain that “The Whistleblower’s Handbook” will help countless whistleblowers navigate the horrifying maze of the legal system…This is a must-read for every current or potential whistleblower.” – Julia Davis, Department of Homeland Security Whistleblower

“I hope that employees of every defense contractor use the book to ensure that taxpayers are not robbed by unscrupulous corporations.” – Bunnatine Greenhouse, Army Corps of Engineers Whistleblower

“This book arms the whistleblower with the vital ammunition needed to effectively document corruption, while guiding them in how to protect their families, reputations and careers.” – Linda Tripp, White House Whistleblower

“As a whistleblower who has successfully won a case against the FBI, I can attest to the fact that this is the definitive Bible for whistleblowers. Written by the premier whistleblower attorney in the United States, this handbook contains everything you will need to know about blowing the whistle and surviving.” – Jane Turner, FBI Whistleblower and 25 Year Veteran Agent

“Steve Kohn’s book The Whistleblower’s Handbook provides a great service to current and would-be whistleblowers and to our citizenry by providing a comprehensive guide to exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in both the private and public sectors. It effectively acts as a compass and detailed avoidance map to help navigate whistleblowers through the retaliatory minefields they may already have entered, or will soon face.” – Russ Tise, Former Intelligence Officer (NSA) National Security Agency

“This is a great book… Read [The Handbook] to see how Stephen Kohn won a case using his powerful skills as a lawyer.” – Dr. Donald R. Soeken, Founder of No FEAR Coalition

Meet the Author

“For the past 25 years, Kohn’s been in the trenches fighting the whistleblower wars. The lessons learned from those wars have been distilled in this book.” – Michael E. Tigar, Professor of Law at American University

“Kohn is a feared litigator in government and corporate circles.” – John Solomon, News and Investigations Editor, Newsweek/The Daily Beast

“Stephen Kohn’s new book on whistleblowing . . . is a masterpiece. The book is an invaluable resource.” – Victoria Toensing, Founding Partner of di Genova & Toensing

“Stephen Kohn’s book gives workers, their unions, and their lawyers all the tools they need to make sure that when the whistle is blown, the wrongdoer and not the whistleblower gets punished.” – John Sweeney, Founding Partner of di Genova & Toensing

“Stephen Kohn’s new treatise on Whistleblower Protection Law provides a critical resource in a vital area. Whistleblowers help protect us all in countless ways–they expose dangerous environmental conditions, unsafe work practices, consumer rip-offs and fraud on the government. Kohn’s scholarly, yet common-sense treatment of this subject pulls together the existing amalgam of scattered labor and employment laws that protect whistleblowers and give the practitioner a reliable and effective tool for navigating these waters.” – Gerard M Waites, Partner at O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue

“The ultimate legal guide to protecting yourself.” – PEN Center, USA, Selected by the Pen Center as one of the “top ten books about whistleblowers.”

“Stephen Kohn has written an inspiring and optimistic report on the state of whistleblowing in the US and guides us through the complexities of risking our own comfort by blowing the whistle. . . The wise reader will pay heed to Kohn’s short list of rules when performing her moral duty.” – Gina Vega, Professor of Management at the Bertolon School of Business and Author of Moral Courage

Steve Kohn

Stephen M. Kohn

Stephen M. Kohn is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading whistleblower and qui tam attorneys. Meet the Author

He won the largest ever individual whistleblower reward/qui tam payment for UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld ($104 million reward for Mr. Birkenfeld). His record of winning whistleblower cases dates back to 1984, and he was peer-review rated by the National Law Journal as one of the 50-top plaintiff’s lawyers in the United States, the only whistleblower rights lawyer to achieve this distinction.

His successful advocacy has resulted in landmark precedents in whistleblower and qui tam law. He helped draft key whistleblower legislation and regulatory rules, including those incorporated into the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank Act, the IRS Qui Tam whistleblower amendments, and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

He is the author of the first legal treatise on whistleblowing and is the world’s most published author on whistleblower protection. His most recent book is The New Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself. In 1988 he helped found the National Whistleblower Center, where he currently serves, pro bono, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In his book Lucifer’s Banker, Swiss bank whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld describes his initial encounters with Steve Kohn: “The only lawyer still on my side was Stephen Kohn, and he wasn’t getting paid . . . he was as smart as they come and feisty as a pit bull. Steve was convinced the government owed me a fat reward, and he was going to get it, or die trying.” Four years later, Mr. Birkenfeld obtained that largest individual whistleblower reward in history, $104 million.

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