Rules for Whistleblowers - What's Inside the Book

Rules for Whistleblowers

A Handbook for Doing What’s Right

  • Safeguard Yourself – Each chapter in this book concludes with “Practice Tips,” offering a comprehensive guide to the most robust legal frameworks and precedents empowering you to stand up against corporate malfeasance.
  • Maximize Whistleblower Incentives – Avoid missing crucial deadlines that could be a barrier to earning substantial monetary rewards. “Rules for Whistleblowers” meticulously guides you through the necessary procedures to become eligible for significant financial incentives.
  • Exercise Your Legal Rights – Discover the legality of recording conversations with your employer, handling confidential workplace documents, and navigating offers of legal representation from your company. This book provides clear insights into the most complex aspects of whistleblowing.
Stephen M. Kohn

Author, Rules for Whistleblowers
World Renowned Whistleblower Attorney
Establishing Legal Precedents Since 1984

Blow the Whistle. Protect Yourself.

“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

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.

Chapter Summaries

Introduction: The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Whistleblowing

Discover the history of the United States’ initial whistleblowers and explore the reasons why the Continental Congress endorsed the world’s inaugural whistleblower legislation.

Rule 1: In with the New—Out with the Old!

Explore the transformative evolution of whistleblowing in the last 15 years, which now allows for anonymous and confidential submissions, and has resulted in the disbursement of over 10 billion dollars in financial incentives.

Rule 2: Be Confidential

Learn the technical rules for submitting anonymous and confidential complaints essential in protecting you from retaliation.

Rule 3: Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Since 1986, the United States has implemented laws offering rewards to whistleblowers in areas such as foreign corruption, money laundering, government contracting fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud, and others. Discover the ways in which you can be eligible for multimillion-dollar rewards under these statutes.

Rule 4: “It Takes a Rogue to Catch a Rogue”

You can still receive whistleblower protection even if you were involved in the underlying violation. Find out how this is possible.

Rule 5: Avoid the Traps

There are five key pitfalls that can lead to whistleblowers facing career ruin, losing protection eligibility, and forfeiting their rights to rewards. Discover these traps and how to effectively avoid them.

Rule 6: Think Globally

Whistleblower reward laws apply transnationally. Learn how non-U.S. citizens can obtain rewards, and how Americans can blow the whistle on violations that occur overseas.

Rule 7: Protect Yourself

When whistleblowers come forward with information, they expose themselves to possible retaliatory actions. Find out how to reduce these risks and increase your chances of success in a case.

Rule 8: Document, Document, Document

Legally acquiring documents to bolster your case can often be the deciding factor between victory and defeat. Discover the methods to do so effectively.

Rule 9: Should You Tape?

In many states, whistleblowers are allowed to engage in “one-party taping.” Is this a step you should consider taking?

Rule 10: Know the Limits of “Hotlines”

Many corporations offer internal complaint “hotlines” that are managed by the company itself. Is it advisable for you to utilize these channels?

Rule 11: Don’t Let the Lawyers Throw You Under the Bus

Corporate lawyers represent the interests of the company, not individual employees. Discover how to manage this potential risk.

Rule 12: Don’t Tip Off the Crooks

This guideline highlights the advantages of preserving absolute confidentiality throughout the entire whistleblower process.

Rule 13: Special Rules for Directors, Partners, or Auditors

If you are employed by a company to identify fraud or misconduct, can you still act as a whistleblower? More importantly, can you be eligible for a reward? Explore the ways this can be achieved.

Rule 14: Don't Fear NDAs

Even if you’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement, discover how you can still proceed with whistleblowing. It’s possible that the NDA itself might be considered an obstruction of justice.

Rule 15: Talking to the Press

Is it advisable for a whistleblower to approach the media? Understand the potential costs and benefits of this decision.

Rule 16: Follow the Money

Understanding that safety, compliance, and environmental protection involve financial expenditures is crucial. Explore how contemporary whistleblower laws address issues like ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), environmental practices, and other areas of public concern.

Rule 17: The False Claims Act Reborn—With a Vengeance

The Amendments to the False Claims Act of 1986 offer robust protections and the right to substantial rewards. Discover who qualifies under this act and how to effectively utilize the law.

Rule 18: Tax Evasion and Underpayments: Report to the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service’s whistleblower law encompasses all forms of tax evasion, underpayment of taxes, and issues under the commission’s investigative authority. Find out how this legislation has already resulted in the payment of millions of dollars to whistleblowers.

Rule 19: Dodd-Frank (Securities & Commodities): Report to the SEC/CFTC

Dodd-Frank represents the pinnacle of whistleblower protection and reward laws, with unparalleled confidentiality and anonymity provisions. Explore how to navigate and utilize this law effectively.

Rule 20: Foreign Corruption & Bribery: Report to SEC/CFTC

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Commodity Exchange Act now allow whistleblowers to receive monetary rewards, irrespective of their citizenship and regardless of where the corruption took place. Don’t forfeit your rights assuming the crimes fall outside of America’s jurisdiction.

Rule 21: Money Laundering and Sanctions-Busting: Report to FinCEN/Treasury

As of December 2022, reports on money laundering can be made anonymously and confidentially. The law is expansive, encompassing money laundering, breaches of the Bank Secrecy Act, and all violations of U.S. sanctions requirements. Discover the process for reporting under this law.

Rule 22: Auto Safety: Report to the DoT

Discover the methods to confidentially and anonymously report motor vehicle defects and safety violations as a whistleblower.

Rule 23: Whistleblowing on the High Seas: Report to the Coast Guard

Explore how the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships possesses transnational jurisdiction and applies internationally for pollution incidents on the high seas, regardless of the ship’s flagging or the whistleblower’s nationality.

Rule 24: Wildlife Trafficking, IUU Fishing, and Deforestation: Report to FWS

Discover how the wildlife protection laws, which contain some of the earliest provisions for whistleblower rewards, can be utilized to report wildlife crimes, despite their limitations in strength.

Rule 25: Don't Think Small

Understand how the primary whistleblower laws allow for related action payments. Find out how you can receive rewards based on enforcement actions carried out by agencies that fall outside the scope of a specific whistleblower statute.

Rule 26: Find the Federal Law that Works

United States whistleblower laws were established in response to individual scandals. It’s essential to determine which law offers you the best protection.

Rule 27: Don't Forget State Laws

Many states offer whistleblower protections through their localized versions of the False Claims Act, which allow for rewards when reporting fraud against state and local governments. Learn about the specific provisions in your state.

Rule 28: Government Retaliation: Use the First Amendment

State and local employees can seek protection under a Civil Rights law from the Reconstruction era of 1871. Discover how this can be done.

Rule 29: Federal Employees Are Special

The majority of federal employees are protected under a specific whistleblower law called the Whistleblower Protection Act. While it is complex and has faced criticism, it remains the most reliable source of protection available to federal workers.

Rule 30: The Danger Zone: National Security Whistleblowing

Employees in national security and intelligence agencies face significant challenges when reporting wrongdoing, yet there are laws in place to protect them. Delve into their experiences and understand the relevant laws here.

Rule 31: Winning a Case

To succeed in a retaliation case, certain specific elements must be established. Ensure that you are prepared to meet each of these criteria.

Rule 32: Your Disclosures Must be Protected under Law

Whistleblower laws often have precise definitions for what constitutes a protected disclosure. Ensure that your disclosures fall within these covered categories.

Rule 33: Make Discovery Your Best Friend

Winning a whistleblower retaliation case typically requires engaging in the discovery process. Are you familiar with what discovery entails?

Rule 34: Prove Motive and Pretext

At the core of a whistleblower retaliation case lies the challenge of proving motive and pretext. Here’s a brief overview of what that involves.

Rule 35: Truth is Power

Remember the reasons why you chose to blow the whistle and the significance of conveying to a jury that you took a stand against the wrongdoers.

Rule 36: The Boss Must Make You Whole

Maximize your entitled compensation. Winning a retaliation case can yield more than just reinstatement and back pay; understand all the potential benefits you’re entitled to.

Rule 37: How to Afford a Lawyer

Nearly every retaliation law mandates that your employers cover your attorney fees if you win your case. Find out how this process works.

Conclusion: Can Whistleblowers Drive a Spike Through the Heart of Corruption?

Whistleblowing has become the leading method for uncovering corporate corruption and holding white-collar criminals accountable. Discover the reasons behind its effectiveness and why whistleblowers are crucial in the battle against corruption.

Rules for Whistleblowers

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All purchases or donations proceeds go to support the National Whistleblower Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting whistleblowers.

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Latest Reviews

Publisher’s Weekly Review

An essential resource for potential whistleblowers, packed with practical advice.

Kirkus Review

An essential resource for potential whistleblowers, packed with practical advice.

DC Bar Review

An essential resource for potential whistleblowers, packed with practical advice.

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Meet Stephen Kohn, the Author of Rules for Whistleblowers

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Kohn is considered the world’s leading authority on international whistleblower law, and behind some of todays modern whistleblower rules.

Rules for Whistleblowers: Law Library

Law Library

The Law Library is a free companion to the Rules for Whistleblowers, complete with relevant whistleblower cases and important links and resources.

Keynote Speaking

Speaking Engagement

Kohn enjoys speaking to both large and small groups, students and professionals, the general public and government officials. Submit a speaking request today!

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Rules for Whistleblowers
A Handbook for Doing What's Right

Rules for Whistleblowers is the ultimate guide to blowing the whistle and getting rewarded (Lyons Press, 2023)
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