September 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 271

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September 27, 2021

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National Whistleblower Appreciation Day

Whistleblowers who courageously call out wrongdoing deserve (at least) a day of recognition for their role in holding accountable corporations and individuals in positions of power.  Congress first recognized National Whistleblower Day on July 30, 2015, as the Continental Congress first passed a whistleblower law on July 30th, 1778.  America’s first whistleblowers were 10 sailors and marines who wrote a petition to the Continental Congress regarding the misconduct of their commander, Commodore Esek Hopkins.  Their complaint led to the commodore filing a criminal libel suit against the sailors, and two of the group were jailed.  The two incarcerated sailors petitioned the Continental Congress for protection, as they believed reporting wrongdoing was “nothing but their duty.” In addition to defraying the costs of the sailors’ defense, the Continental Congress also passed the first American whistleblower law, enshrining the concept of the duty to report misconduct in the fledgling government.

The next major whistleblower law came about with another American crisis, the Civil War.  Due to rampant Union War Department contract fraud, the False Claims Act was passed in 1863.  The False Claims Act allows a “relator,” or non-governmental third party, to report fraud and bring suit on behalf of the government.  This concept arises out of ancient Roman and Anglo-Saxon law, wherein (generally) a person reporting a crime could receive a portion of the defendant’s forfeited property.  The abbreviation for this concept, qui tam, comes from the Latin phrase, “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” or “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”

© 2021 by Tycko & Zavareei LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 211
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About this Author

Jonathan K. Tycko leads the Whistleblower Practice Group of Tycko & Zavareei LLP

In recent years, the laws of the United States have undergone a whistleblower revolution. Federal and state governments now offer substantial monetary awards to individuals who come forward with information about fraud on government programs, tax fraud, securities fraud, and fraud involving the banking industry. Whistleblowers also now have important legal protections, designed to prevent retaliation and blacklisting.

The law firm of Tycko & Zavareei LLP works on the cutting edge of this whistleblower revolution, taking on even the most complex and confidential whistleblower...

202-973-0900
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