While Whistleblower Appreciation Day (7/30) is a time to reflect on the individuals who selflessly come forward with information for the good of us all, it is also a time to examine the ever-changing landscape as our country continues to craft new laws and establish precedent that hopefully will make it easier for whistleblowers to come forward, and for the SEC and other agencies and whistleblower programs to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Johnson & Johnson recently announced it will stop selling talcum-based baby powered in the U.S. and Canada. The decision to stop selling the product came within a few short months of an FDA test that found asbestos in a single lot of J&J baby powder, despite the company’s continued statements that its baby powder is safe. The company has also been ordered to pay billions of dollars in verdicts to women and their families who say asbestos-contaminated baby powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.
School buses are essential (under normal circumstances, when students are not at home during a pandemic) for many parents and for students who don’t otherwise have a way to school, after school activities or sports games. For many, they bring up fond memories of riding to school with friends and neighbors, but for others, buses have been the source of harm or even deadly outcomes. One reason is that most school buses don’t contain the types of automatic fire suppressant systems and protections we’ve come to expect, making a school bus one of the worst places to be during a fire.
History teaches that as in previous national crises, the funds appropriated through the CARES Act will be beset by fraud of every kind imaginable. America’s workers, and particularly the essential healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, are uniquely situated to witness, detect, prevent and report COVID-19-related fraud on the government by taking advantage of the rights and protections afforded whistleblowers by the False Claims Act (FCA).
Since the beginning of this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower (OWB) has issued approximately $64 million in whistleblower awards to 12 whistleblowers who reported information to the SEC that either caused it to open an investigation or substantially assisted in an ongoing investigation.
Over the course of last week, we explored how past work-related tragedies shaped and were often a catalyst for safety policies, many of which continue to protect workers to this day. We also examined the challenges and limitations that affect today’s workers – especially now as the world continues to find its way through this unprecedented pandemic. Now that Workers’ Memorial Week 2020 has come to a close, we’re reminded just how uncertain the future remains for workers.
In the workplace, employees’ knowledge of their rights not only empowers them, but helps to promote transparency, safety regulations and their civil liberties. In honor of Workers’ Memorial Week it is important to apply the lessons we have learned in the past and exercise workers’ rights, especially now as medical personnel, food plant workers and others are facing increased risks from COVID-19 and, in some situations, a lack of adequate personal safety equipment and appropriate working conditions.
Ensuring a safe work environment is, and always has been, everyone’s business. That’s why each year during the last week of April, advocacy groups across the country unite to recognize Workers’ Memorial Week – a time to remember those killed or injured on the job and reflect on the pivotal events that have shaped work culture.
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse by an adult before they turn 18, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. For many, their abuse is a secret that weighs heavily, well into adulthood, even as abusers walk free and the institutions that enabled the abuse are not held accountable. New “lookback window” laws enacted in several states throughout the country seek to give adult victims of childhood sexual abuse a stronger voice and an opportunity to hold their abusers and abuse enablers accountable in civil court.