Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers Act

Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers Act

What You Need to Know About the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers Act

The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Protection Act was enacted in 1986 as part of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (“Safety Act”). This act protects against retaliation or discrimination against employees who report safety-related violations of motor vehicle laws. 

It applies to all federal agencies responsible for enforcing motor vehicle safety standards, including the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) within the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Whistleblower Protection Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act

The whistleblower protection provisions under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act apply only to individuals who provide information regarding violations of federal motor vehicle safety standards. These provisions do not protect individuals who provide information regarding non-compliance with State or local regulations.

Who Is Protected?

Any individual may be protected if they:

  • Provide information relating to any violation of a Federal motor vehicle safety standard.
  • Report such information directly to an agency official designated by the Secretary of DOT or his designee.
  • Provide such information to a person acting on behalf of such an agency official. 
  • Disclose such reports to Congress or its committees or subcommittees.

What Are the Requirements?

To qualify for protection, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • You must have provided information relating to a violation of a Federal motor car safety standard.
  • You must have reported such information directly to an appropriate agency official.
  • Or you must have disclosed such information to Congress, a committee or subcommittee, or a hearing examiner conducting hearings.

How Do the Whistleblower Protections Work?

If you are protected, your employer cannot take adverse employment actions against you because you made a good faith disclosure of information to an agency official, a person acting on behalf of an agency official, or to Congress, a committee, or subcommittee thereof.

However, if you are not protected, your employer can still take adverse employment actions against you for making a good faith disclosure of a violation of a Federal safety standard. In addition, even if you are not protected, your employer can retaliate against you by taking adverse employment actions against you, such as demoting or terminating you, if it knows that you made a good faith complaint of a violation of a safety standard.

What types of Auto Safety Violations can be reported?

Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, two categories of violations can be reported to an appropriate agency official. They include:

  • A violation of a Federal motor safety standard that has been adopted after January 1, 1966.
  • A violation of a rule, regulation, order, decision, license requirement, standard practice, or other similar provision of law, statute, regulation, order, or decision issued by a government authority having jurisdiction over the subject matter, unless the violation did not occur in whole or part due to fraud, gross negligence, or intentional misconduct.

Can I Be Protected Under Both Categories?

Yes, you can be protected under both categories. However, the protections afforded under each category differ. If you report a violation of any other type of regulation or order, then you would be covered by the general anti-retaliation provision of the statute. For example, suppose you report a violation of a standard adopted before January 1, 1966, but it is alleged to have occurred after that date. In that case, you will only be covered by the provisions of the statute that protect disclosures to an appropriate agency official.

FAQ Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers Act

Q: What does the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistle-Blowers Act mean when they say “information relating to a violation of Federal motor vehicle safety standards”?

A: It means that you may file a complaint with NHTSA about a specific violation of a federal motor vehicle safety standard. For example, if a car manufacturer fails to comply with a national average requiring seat belts, you could file a complaint with NTHSA alleging that the company could not install seat belts in its cars.

Q: How do I know whether my complaint is valid?

A: You must make sure that the facts you allege support a finding that a violation of a federal motor safety standard occurred. This is called “substantial evidence.”

Q: Can I be paid for filing a complaint with NHTSA?

A: Yes, you can receive compensation for reporting a violation of a federal safety standard. The amount of money you can get depends on how much time it takes to resolve the case.

Q: Who decides what happens next?

A: NHTSA makes the final determination about your complaint.

Q: Are there penalties for lying?

A: Yes. There are criminal penalties for knowingly filing false reports

Do You Have a Motor Vehicle Safety Violation to Report?

Our whistleblower lawyers can represent Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers, and all other types of whistleblower lawsuits. If you believe that your employer is violating the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, contact The Whistleblower Advocates at (833) 310-3147 for a FREE, confidential consultation.

The Whistleblower Advocates - Philadelphia Office

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Philadelphia, PA 19109

Phone: (833) 310-3147

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We serve clients throughout the Delaware Valley including, but not limited to, those in the following localities: Pennsylvania including Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia.

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