National Whistleblowers Center
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax exempt, educational and advocacy organization, founded and operated by the employment lawyers Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, based in Washington, D.C.. Since its founding in 1988, the Center has worked on whistleblower cases relating to environmental protection, nuclear safety, and government and corporate accountability.
- 1 Mission
- 2 Programs
- 3 NWC Accomplishments
- 4 Murphy v. IRS
- 5 Prominent advocated whistleblowers
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
The full, stated mission of the NWC is:
The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) is an advocacy organization with a 23-year history of protecting the right of individuals to speak out about wrongdoing in the workplace without fear of retaliation. Since 1988, NWC has supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress, achieving victories for environmental protection, nuclear safety, government ethics and corporate accountability. NWC also sponsors several educational and assistance programs, including an online resource center on whistleblower rights, a speakers bureau of national experts and former whistleblowers, and a national attorney referral service run by the NWC's sister group the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund (NWLDEF). The National Whistleblowers Center is a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. 
NWC sponsors a number of programs in support of whistleblowers, including the following:
Attorney Referral Service (ARS)
This national service provides legal referrals to whistleblowers in search of competent counsel, such as Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, whose senior partner Stephen Kohn is executive director of the center. The ARS is composed of attorneys from across the nation who are interested in whistleblowing cases.
Public Education Programs
These programs are aimed at ensuring that employees are aware of the protections afforded to whistleblowers. As part of this effort, the Center's attorneys have authored the leading legal treatises on whistleblower protection and sponsor educational programs for employees, Congressional committees, public interest groups, attorneys and government-oversight agencies. These programs include presentations by the NWC Speakers Bureau, which consists of qualified and experienced speakers and presenters who are experts in their fields, and include prominent whistleblowers. The Center also sponsors regular training programs for public interest lawyers, law students and undergraduate students interested in public service.
Forensic Justice Project (FJP)
After leading a successful six-year campaign to reform the FBI's Forensic Crime Lab, the Center's Forensic Justice Project has taken on a review of misconduct in crime labs nationwide. The cases under review have impacted many potential wrongful convictions, resulted in the review of thousands of cases, and given freedom to wrongfully convicted defendants. In addition to reviewing misconduct at state crime labs, the FJP continues to monitor and expose problems within the FBI and FBI crime lab.
In addition to protecting the jobs and careers of numerous whistleblowers, the Center's victories include the following:
- Winning reinstatement for the highest ranking nuclear whistleblower;
- Collecting millions of dollars in damages on behalf of whistleblowers;
- Using the Freedom of Information Act (United States) to force government agencies to release hundreds of thousands of pages of information documenting government misconduct;
- Exposing misconduct at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 crime scenes, including theft by FBI agents and the mishandling of evidence;
- Documenting deficiencies in the FBI's counterterrorism program;
- Requiring the FBI to create whistleblower protection for FBI agents for the first time in U.S. history;
- Forcing the FBI to accredit its crime lab;
- Forcing the United States Attorney General to withdraw gag orders on government employees who desired to expose ethical violations to Members of Congress;
- Successfully worked with Congress to ensure passage of critical whistleblower protection laws, such as the No-FEAR Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act;
- Forcing President Bush to withdraw his nomination for head of enforcement at the United States Environmental Protection Agency due to former retaliation against whistleblowers;
- Preventing federal agencies from gagging employee speech critical of agency policies;
- Banning "hush money" payments for all environmental and nuclear federal safety cases;
- Exposing the vulnerabilities of U.S. nuclear power plants to airborne terrorist attacks and forcing reforms in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission;
- Ensuring that military whistleblowers are informed of their rights by the Department of Defense;
- Establishing numerous legal precedents strengthening whistleblower protections for public and private sector employees, including expanding the scope of protected whistleblower speech, enjoining government regulations which restricted whistleblowing, and expanding the use of the Privacy Act to prevent the government from smearing its critics.
Murphy v. IRS
In Murphy v. IRS, whistleblower Marrita Murphy (represented by David K. Colapinto, general counsel for the National Whistleblower Center) challenged the constitutionality of taxing compensatory damages in civil rights/whistleblower cases. In August, 2006, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Ms. Murphy, and declared unconstitutional a special tax Congress had passed in 1996, which targeted civil rights victims who received compensation for emotional distress damages. However, on July 3, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed itself on the case, holding that the IRS can tax damage awards based solely on compensating victims who suffer emotional injuries.
Prominent advocated whistleblowers
Mrs. Bunnantine (Bunny) Greenhouse
Bunny Greenhouse, former chief contracting officer of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, testified in June 2005 before a Democratic party public committee. Her testimony included allegations against Halliburton of instances of waste, fraud and other abuses with regards to its operations in the Iraq War. After standing up and "blowing the whistle," she was demoted and removed from her position as the chief civilian contracting authority of the Corps. In July 2011, she won close to $1 million in full restitution of lost wages, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.
In 1999, former FBI special agent Jane Turner brought to the attention of her management team serious misconduct concerning failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against children in Indian Country and in the Minot, North Dakota community. Turner also reported on misconduct related to the potential criminal theft of property from the 9/11 Ground Zero crime scene in New York City by Minneapolis FBI personnel. Although she was considered one of the best agents working in Indian Country, Turner's twenty-five year career with the FBI was brought to a halt when she was forced from service as retaliation for what FBI management termed as "tarnishing" the image of the FBI.
Dr. Frederic Whitehurst
Dr. Whitehurst is the Executive Director of the NWC's Forensic Justice Project. Dr. Whitehurst received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University, a J.D. from Georgetown University. He joined the FBI in 1982 and served as a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI crime lab from 1986-98. He retired after winning the first-ever whistleblower case against the FBI.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo was a senior policy analyst for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She founded two employee-rights groups, EPA Employees Against Racial Discrimination and the No FEAR coalition. Through her leadership, the No FEAR Coalition, working closely with Representative James Sensenbrenner, organized a successful grass-roots campaign and obtained overwhelming Congressional support for the "Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act." The Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.
Dr. Jonathan Fishbein
The Center has championed the case of one of the highest ranking drug whistleblowers in American history, Dr. Jonathan Fishbein. Dr. Fishbein exposed a series of unethical and improper medical problems within the National Institutes of Health's drug safety clinical trials program. In the wake of Dr. Fishbein's allegations, the United States Department of Health and Human Services enacted sweeping conflict of interest reforms and promised protection of senior ranking employees who blow the whistle. Additionally, drug companies have instituted voluntary reforms in an effort to circumvent congressional acts. Regardless of the scandals that have rocked the drug agency, Congress has still not enacted federal protection for drug whistleblowers.
- 460 F.3d 79, 2006-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,476, 2006 WL 2411372 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 22, 2006).
- "A bittersweet win for a whistleblower" The Washington Post