DEFINITION of 'Whistleblower'

Anyone who has and reports insider knowledge of illegal activities occurring in an organization. Whistleblowers can be employees, suppliers, contractors, clients or any individual who somehow becomes aware of illegal activities taking place in a business either through witnessing the behavior or being told about it. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under various programs created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

BREAKING DOWN 'Whistleblower'

Different organizations are interested in different sets of illegal activities reported by whistleblowers. While OSHA is more interested in the environmental and safety breaches, the SEC is interested in securities law violations. Organizations such as these offer awards for some information provided by whistleblowers and often allow for online submissions of information as well as anonymity.

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  1. How should a whistleblower report unlawful or unethical behavior?

    Whistleblowing takes many forms. A whistleblower could expose government corruption, expose unethical business behavior or ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What should a whistleblower do if their employer retaliates?

    Although specifically prohibited by employment law, employer retaliation against whistleblowers for exposing employers' wrongdoings ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How often do mutual funds report their holdings?

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires mutual funds to report complete lists of their holdings on a quarterly ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What do I do if I think an accountant is in violation of the Generally Accepted Accounting ...

    The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) promulgates generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What protections are in place for a whistleblower?

    Whistleblowers can play a critical role in ensuring the compliance, safety, honesty and legal fairness of governments and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How did the Dodd-Frank Act change whistleblower protection and processes?

    In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act strengthened and expanded the existing whistleblower program promulgated by the Sarbanes-Oxley ... Read Full Answer >>

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