US: government approves incentives to auto industry whistle-blowers image

A US Senate committee recently approved the legislation that would see the introduction of payments and awards to employees and contractors who come forward to the federal government with information about vehicle defects or violations of law that could pose a threat to life.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was the one passing U.S. Sen. John Thune’s bill – though the legislation still needs to gain approval from the full Senate next. “The auto industry needs to be held accountable if it makes decisions that result in serious injuries or deaths,” said fellow senator Bill Nelson, the committee’s ranking Democrat and a cosponsor of the bill. The legislation has appeared as a consequence of last year’s record recalls that totaled 63.9 million vehicles in the US. In 2014 the primary safety crisis were brought by General Motors’ ignition switch defect and Japan’s Takata Corp. airbag inflator trouble. According to the new law, whistle-blowers that come forth with information in regards of life-threatening issues could be eligible to be paid up to 30% of the monetary sanctions imposed against the carmaker or supplier.

According to the bill, the new incentive treatment would also be applicable if the monetary levies exceed $1 million and the whistle-blowers are working for or contracting with the auto company that was reported for the defects or other violations of federal law. Naturally, if the whistle-blower was a substantial contributor to the flaw or law violation, or he/she refrained from making it known from the start to the company, the award would not be offered. The information would also need to be original – not already available to authorities.