A New Chapter In Whistleblower Law Has Arrived
NHTSA Proposes Regulations to Implement Whistleblower Program
The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) announced on April 14, 2023, that it is creating regulations to implement the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. The Whistleblower Act was passed by Congress in 2015 as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The Whistleblower Act allows industry insiders who report violations of federal vehicle-safety laws to collect between 10% and 30% of monetary fines the government imposes based on information reported by the insider.
NHTSA has already issued at least one award under the Whistleblower Act, even in the absence of implementing regulations. In November 2021, NHTSA awarded more than $24.3 million to Kim Gwang-Ho. Mr. Gwang-ho was an automotive engineer for Kia and Hyundai. In that role, he learned of serious defects in the engines of these vehicles and that the companies were submitting inaccurate information to NHTSA regarding the defective engines. NHTSA’s investigation, based on information provided by Mr. Gwang-ho, led to Consent Orders imposing more than $200 million in sanctions on the two companies. Mr. Gwang-ho was awarded 30% of the $81 million paid in cash to the government — the maximum award allowed by the law.
Additional Protections Under The New Regulations
What Employees Need To Know
According to NHTSA, the new regulations will help ensure whistleblowers are both properly compensated and fully protected, as the Whistleblower Act requires. They will also identify specifically when a whistleblower’s identity might be disclosed. The regulations will also create forms and other tools to make the whistleblowing process more efficient and effective.
The regulations are open for comment through June 13, 2023.
Speak Up Against Noncompliance
We’re Here To Watch Your Back
Do you have information regarding serious defects in motor vehicle design or manufacture, noncompliance with industry standards, or violations of other laws or regulations enforced by NHTSA? You may qualify to be a whistleblower.