The Successes and Failures of Whistleblower Laws

The Successes and Failures of Whistleblower Laws

Robert G. Vaughn

Drawing on literature from several disciplines, this enlightening book examines the history of whistleblower laws throughout the world and provides an analytical structure for the most common debates about the nature of such laws and their potential successes and failures.

Chapter 9: Private-sector laws

Robert G. Vaughn

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, criminal law and justice, labour, employment law, politics and public policy, public policy


The doctrine of at-will employment applicable to most employees of companies and corporations in the United States has influenced the character of whistleblower laws pertinent to the private sector. Under that doctrine, absent a specific contract, both the employee and the employer can end the employment relationship at any time. In practice, the doctrine permits an employer to fire an employee for no reason. Contracts limiting this discretion arise from individual negotiations, usually by the highest levels of corporate management or through collective bargaining agreements between the employer and a union representing some or all of its employees. In this context, whistleblower laws restrict that authority by prohibiting retaliation for disclosures protected by those laws.

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