While whistleblowers already have several means to report fraud to the federal government—including the False Claims Act, the IRS whistleblower program, and the SEC and CFTC whistleblower programs—there is a new, bipartisan, fraud-fighting law on the books that rewards whistleblowers for valuable information in the auto industry.
Since late 2015, the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (MVSWA) has offered monetary incentives to reward individuals who report information about life-threatening automobile safety issues to the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The law was passed as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) and can be found at 49 U.S.C § 30172.
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Under the new program, a whistleblower can receive a reward of up to 30% of any monetary sanctions over $1,000,000 the government imposes based on the information the whistleblower provides. As well, existing law offers vehicle-safety whistleblowers protection against employer retaliation.
In order to qualify for a reward under 49 § 30172, you must:
- be an “insider” of a motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership (you must be an employee or contractor of one of these institutions);
- who voluntarily provides (it cannot be a part of an investigation or subpoena or something read about online);
- original information to the Department of Transportation (information not already known to the Department of Transportation);
- of a motor vehicle defect or noncompliance/violation with safety requirements (including failure to report and/or recall known issues);
- that is likely to cause an unreasonable risk of severe injury or death (the risk must be more than just the inherent risk of driving); and
- leads to monetary sanctions of more than $1,000,000 (including actions brought by Department of Justice).
The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act is designed to keep America’s roads and highways safe from known, preventable dangers. Fortunately, the law recognizes that whistleblowers are essential to that mission, as they have not only the knowledge of auto safety-related issues, but also the integrity to speak up and speak out.
The Department of Transportation is required by the new law to issue proposed regulations outlining how the program will operate within the next year. However, at this time the statute is in effect and potential whistleblowers should act quickly in order to timely file a tip with the Department of Transportation under the law. To that end, it is highly recommended that any potential whistleblower contact a lawyer who is familiar with whistleblower provisions of other similar statutes, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whistleblower programs, and the False Claims Act.
Contact the Law Offices of Chhabra & Gibbs Today
Are you an auto industry insider aware of a corporate cover up in the industry? If so, the MVSWA may protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the cover up. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. You can give us a call at 601-948-8805 or use our live chat.
CONTACT US TODAY IF YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF CORPORATE COVERUPS. YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR COMPENSATION