Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate approved and sent to the House of Representatives the Thune-Nelson Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. The bill offers individuals a substantial monetary incentive for whistleblowers in the automotive industry to report safety problems and vehicle defects that could lead to serious injuries or death. Whistleblowers could receive up to 30 percent of any monetary penalty over $1 million imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation or U.S. Department of Justice for misconduct.
The bill allows for automaker employees and contractors, parts suppliers, manufacturers, and dealerships to come forward to the federal government with vital information that could prevent future vehicle accidents.
Commenting on the legislation, Lieff Cabraser attorney Rachel Geman, who represents whistleblowers nationwide, stated:
“As the GM ignition switch tragedy and other recent high-profile auto cases show, when things go wrong in this industry, they go very wrong, and the impact includes death, injury, and ruined lives. It stands to reason that auto industry whistleblowers should be at least as incentivized to come forward as those in financial services and other industries. It also stands to reason that they should be protected from retaliation when they do. Although this program does not expressly include such protections, many other employment laws do. We encourage those with information about auto safety not to stay silent, and applaud all the whistleblowers across many industries who have shown how powerful and effective whistleblower programs can be.”