The U.S. Senate recently approved the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, which provides whistleblower protections and bounties to individuals who report motor vehicle defects. The bill was unanimously approved.
The act, aimed at improving safety in the auto industry, incentivizes employees and contractors of automakers, parts suppliers, and dealerships to report motor vehicle defects and other failures to comply with federal laws that could create a risk of death or serious injury.
As in other whistleblower programs, a whistleblower who reports a defect can receive up to 30% of any penalty recovered over $1 million. The Secretary of Transportation would determine the payouts. As is the case with other government whistleblower programs, the identity of a whistleblower will be kept anonymous until governmental proceedings begin.
The SEC has had great success since the establishment of its whistleblower program was established in 2010, which has led to the establishment of other whistleblower programs. Massive safety recalls and reassessments by General Motors and Takata, an auto parts supplier, last year likely also contributed to the need for an auto industry whistleblower bill. Flawed ignition switches in General Motor vehicles led to at least 90 deaths, and documents showed that company officials knew about defects in the switches as early as 2004. At least six drivers were killed by defective Takata airbags.
The House of Representatives must now approve the bill before it is given to President Obama for approval. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).
Evans Law Firm, Inc. handles whistleblower and qui tam (False Claims Act) lawsuits. If you have a whistleblower or qui tam claim, please contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. at 415-441-8669 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.