The Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself


From America's leading whistleblower's attorney—the third updated edition of his layman's guide to the legal do's and don'ts of exposing workplace wrongdoing Do you suspect that your employer is skirting safety or environmental rules, cheating on taxes, violating government contracts, committing financial fraud, or breaking the law? That your boss is a crook? Welcome to the ranks of the close to 50 percent of American workers who have witnessed fraud or misconduct at work—about half of whom take initial steps to ...

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The Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself

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From America's leading whistleblower's attorney—the third updated edition of his layman's guide to the legal do's and don'ts of exposing workplace wrongdoing Do you suspect that your employer is skirting safety or environmental rules, cheating on taxes, violating government contracts, committing financial fraud, or breaking the law? That your boss is a crook? Welcome to the ranks of the close to 50 percent of American workers who have witnessed fraud or misconduct at work—about half of whom take initial steps to "do the right thing" by reporting it. Few get far. Despite a revolutionary spate of laws in recent years that not only protect whistleblowers but also provide for large monetary rewards, the legislative labyrinth remains daunting. All too often this means silence, lost court cases, damaged careers, and a failure to effect real change.Now, updated in March 2013 to include the historic $104-million Bradley Birkenfeld whistleblower case and more, comes the third edition of the first-ever consumer guide to whistleblowing by the nation's leading whistleblower attorney. In The Whistleblower's Handbook, Stephen Martin Kohn explains nearly all federal and state laws regarding whistleblowing. In the step-by-step bulk of the book, he also presents twenty-one rules for whistleblowers—from finding the best federal and state laws to knowing your way around the far-reaching Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, and from the dangers of blindly trusting internal corporate "hotlines" to obtaining the proof you need to win the case. Also included are six easy-reference checklists on whistleblower reward laws and other legislation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"You may want to add this book to your . . . wishlist. Just don't let your boss catch you reading it." —Wall Street Journal"It's vastly shrewd and practical, but it also offers an astute long view of American whistle-blowing. Author Stephen Martin Kohn knows about precedents: He's one of the lawyers who helped procure the biggest whistle-blower reward ever. It went to Bradley Birkenfeld for unveiling the fraud of Switzerland's UBS Bank, which illegally met with rich Yanks trying to hide their money overseas. Birkenfeld got $104 million as compensation from the IRS's whistle-blower program." —Boston Globe"Whistleblowers should do two things: call us at 60 Minutes and read 'The Whistleblower's Handbook.' Its 21 rules lay out the game plan for holding institutions accountable while protecting your job." —Michael Radutzky, Senior Producer 60 Minutes "As a whistleblower who has successfully won a case against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), I can attest to the fact that this is the definitive Bible for whistleblowers. Written by Stephen Kohn, the premiere 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 "In a mix of anecdote, legal history, compendium of relevant laws, and practical handbook, Stephen Kohn . . . steer[s] both would-be whistleblowers and corporate compliance officers through what he calls a 'labyrinth.' [He] is well-placed to serve as guide. . . . The book shows how far whistleblower legislation has globalised . . . [and] shines is in setting out the current, highly complex, legal structure." —Financial Times "It is time that "situational" knowledge within the whistleblowing environment is released to remove the "chill" on employees, to protect the public trust, and to ensure that "truth" and "integrity" among the private and public entities supporting the government are never an OPTION, but an OBLIGATION! I surely hope this gets to all workers who have committed themselves to making a difference wherever they work." —Bunnatine Greenhouse, Army Corps of Engineers 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 "'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 Boehme, former Group Compliance and Ethics Officer, BP plc, and Principal, Compliance Strategists LLC "As the courageous whistleblower who faced fierce opposition and exposed the largest tax scandal in US history . . . this invaluable reference guide will help any future whistleblower navigate the treacherous international waters of ensuring what is done is done 100% right." —Brad Birkenfeld, UBS Whistleblower "Finally — the "how-to" guide for whisteblowers. 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 do's 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 Zerbe, columnist, National Managing Director of AlliantGroup, LP "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 Tice, Former Intelligence Officer, (NSA) National Security Agency "Written by the foremost authority on the subject, 'The Whistleblower's Handbook' is extraordinarily user-friendly and extremely easy to read. Every worker bears a responsibility to guard the public interest. Like no other resource, this book places the power of the law squarely in the hands of America's workforce." —David L. Lewis, Ph.D., EPA Whistleblower "Based on the complex and illogical array of whistleblower legislation, it is astounding that anyone undertakes to do the right thing and report malfeasance to the authorities. Yet, Stephen Kohn has written an inspiring and optimistic report on the state of whistle flowing in the US and guides us through the complexities of risking our own comfort by blowing the whistle in 21 rules. "'The Whistleblower's Handbook' is replete with compelling and little-known stories alongside the more typical, highly-publicized tabloid fodder. A particularly sobering account of whistleblowers in the earliest days of our republic and the moral imperative that protected them will make readers yearn for a way to protect ourselves in the same way as the Founding Fathers protected a group of seamen during the Revolution. 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, Salem State University, Author of "Moral Courage in Organizations: Doing the Right Thing at Work" "This book highlights citizen empowerment and true grassroots democracy in action. As a whistleblower, I know the power of speaking the truth and the unfortunate consequences for those who do. Every American should read this book."- Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Founder of No FEAR Coalition "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 book is a step-by-step guide to understanding the process and arming yourself with the knowledge essential to prevailing in your case. I only wish I've had access to this priceless publication even sooner! This is a must-read for every current or potential whistleblower."- Julia Davis, Department of Homeland Security Whistleblower
Wall Street Journal
Don't let your boss catch you reading it
The Daily Beast
Kohn is a feared litigator in government and corporate circles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762763733
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 781,929
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Martin Kohn is one of the leading whistleblower attorneys in the United States and is the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. Since 1984 he has successfully represented numerous nationally recognized whistleblowers. He is regularly consulted by House and Senate leaders for help in drafting whistleblower protection laws. He is the author of several legal books on the subject.

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Table of Contents

Preface: What to Do if the Boss Is a Crook v

Acknowledgments x

Introduction: Tough Questions Facing Every American Worker xi

Rule 1 Understand the Maze 1

Rule 2 Follow the Money 5

Rule 3 Yes, You Are a "Whistleblower," 17

Rule 4 Find the Best Federal Law 27

Rule 5 Don't Forget State Laws 57

Rule 6 Ask the Most Important Question: Is the Taxpayer on the Hook? 63

Rule 7 Check for Tax Cheats: The IRS Qui Tam 79

Rule 8 Know Dodd-Frank: Securities and Commodities Qui Tam Claims 89

Rule 9 If Working for the Government, Use the First Amendment 101

Rule 10 Make Sure Disclosures Are Protected 105

Rule 11 Beware of "Hotlines," 115

Rule 12 Cautiously Use "Self-Help" Tactics 127

Rule 13 Be Prepared for the Lid to Blow 139

Rule 14 Delay Is Deadly 143

Rule 15 Conduct Discovery 147

Rule 16 Get to the Jury 153

Rule 17 Win the Case: Prove Motive and Pretext 161

Rule 18 Get Every Penny Deserved 169

Rule 19 Make the Boss Pay Attorney Fees 173

Rule 20 Don't Take Hush Money 177

Rule 21 Never Forget: Whistleblowing Works 185

Conclusion: Whistleblowing and the American Dream 195

Checklist 1 Whistleblower Reward Laws (Qui Tam) 203

Checklist 2 Whistleblower Protections Under Federal Law 206

Checklist 3 Whistleblower Protections Under State Common Law 230

Checklist 4 What to Look for When Blowing the Whistle on Fraud Against the Government 244

Checklist 5 Proof of Retaliation 250

Checklist 6 Discovery in Whistleblower Cases: Obtaining the Evidence Needed to Win a Case Against an Employer 264

Annotated Chapter Sources 273

Resources for Whistleblowers 315

Index 319

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2011

    A must for every whistleblower

    I just finished reading Mr.Kohn's handbook and what sets this book apart from all other books written for whistleblowers is that it extremely comprehensive and does not limit the information to any particular area of whistleblowing.

    It is easy to read & understandable to a non-attorney and Mr. Kohn is quite direct in his approach to answering the questions that face every American worker.

    When researching more about Mr. Kohn I've learned that he is also the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower's Center located in Washington,DC. Wow...The website also has a wealth of information. This book will help me defend my case because it combines the law with real case examples. Thank you Mr. Kohn for dedicating your time & knowledge to help all whistleblowers!

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Informative, Instructive, Intriguing!!

    All potential whistleblowers must read this book!! Provides helpful instructions about the process of bringing to light fraud or misconduct in the work place. Shows employees the way to blow the whistle while protecting themselves in a way that will relieve the employee's fears. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is concerned with fraud in business or government. The book brought to my attention the shocking facts regarding the corruption that takes place in the world.

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