The need for effective auto industry whistleblower laws and protections has become ever clearer in recent years amid a series of scandals that led to record penalties and recalls, such as the GM ignition switch defect, Takata exploding airbags, and VW emissions cheat fraud.
Whistleblowers in the auto industry are protected by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Enacted by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in July 2012, MAP-21 protects employees of automobile manufacturers, auto part suppliers, and car dealerships who have been terminated or otherwise retaliated against for voicing concerns to their employer or to federal regulators over auto defects or violations of motor vehicle safety standards. Effective Dec. 14, 2016, OSHA published a final rule establishing procedures and timeframes for handling whistleblower retaliation complaints within the automobile industry.
In order to further encourage whistleblowers to come forward, in December 2015 Congress created the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (MVSWA). The MVSWA provides financial incentives to whistleblowers in the auto industry to bring forward safety concerns. Advocates believe the MVSWA will be as successful as the False Claims act in fighting fraud and other misconduct in the automobile industry.
The MVSWA provides protections and awards to whistleblowers who voluntarily provide federal regulators information relating to motor vehicle defects, noncompliance, or violations of notification or reporting requirements that create an unreasonable risk of death or serious physical injury. A whistleblower must be an employee or contractor of a motor-vehicle manufacturer, parts supplier (i.e., manufacturer of motor-vehicle equipment), or dealership.
Whistleblowers whose tips lead to penalties of $1 million or more will be awarded up to 30 percent of the total sanctions against the violating company.
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