Whistleblower Rights

Whistleblower rights and recovery opportunities are provided for through a complex patchwork of laws, and it is highly recommended that you consult a qualified employment lawyer regarding your legal rights and protections.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is Blowing the Whistle?

Employees who “blow the whistle” on their Employer’s misconduct are protected under various federal and state laws. These laws not only prohibit retaliation against employees who report workplace wrongdoing, but may also allow for a significant recovery by the employee who stands up to such fraud and blows the whistle. The opportunity for ordinary citizens who initiate such lawsuits and recover significant monetary awards has resulted in a tremendous amount of employer fraud to be discovered and remediated.

The primary law adopted specifically to protect Whistleblowers is the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”)(31 U.S.C.§§ 3729–3733), which was initially directed towards combating fraud by unscrupulous suppliers to the Union army during the Civil War. The act known as “Lincoln’s Law” (as it was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln), encourages whistleblowers by promising them a percentage of the money recovered, or damages won by the government, and protects them from wrongful dismissal. This recovery can be substantial. The False Claims Act provides the principal means of protection, and recovery for Whistleblowers.

Those who report a false claim against the federal government, and suffer adverse employment actions as a result, may have up to six (6) years to file a civil suit for remedies under the False Claims Act (FCA). Under a qui tam provision, the “original source” for the report may be entitled to a percentage of what the government recovers from the offenders. However, the “original source” must also be the first to file a federal civil complaint for recovery of the federal funds fraudulently obtained, and must avoid publicizing the claim of fraud until the U.S. Department of Justice decides whether to prosecute the claim itself. Such qui tam lawsuits must be filed under seal, using special procedures to keep the claim from becoming public until the federal government makes its decision on direct prosecution.

In bringing a qui tam action, it is vital to retain an experienced attorney to ensure you are following the proper procedure, and filing your complaint in accordance with the law. Once an individual files a complaint, that person becomes known as a “Relator,” meaning they have related to the U.S. Government that they have witnessed fraud.

WhistleBlower Protection from Retaliation

The law provides vigorous protection for Whistleblowers. For example, the federal False Claims Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against you for attempting to uncover or report fraud on the federal government. If retaliation does occur, you may also be awarded “all relief necessary to make the employee whole,” including reinstatement, back pay (two (2) times the amount of back pay,) litigation costs, and attorney fees. The Department of Labor (DOL) administers fifteen (15) whistleblower provisions that protect employees who disclose information about violation of laws pertaining to airline, trucking, nuclear, environmental, rail, and workplace safety.

The Dodd-Frank Act protects Whistleblowers who report violations of securities laws to either the SEC or Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The Act also protects employees who report fraud relating to a consumer financial product or service to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Federal employees can pursue a retaliation claim under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), which prohibits federal agencies from retaliating against federal employees who engage in whistleblowing activities. In addition, Congress recently enacted whistleblower protections for contractor employees, and employees of state and local governments, to safeguard against fraudulent spending of stimulus funds.

Many whistleblower protection laws prohibit a broad range of retaliatory actions, including demotion, termination, denial of benefits, failure to hire, failure to promote, intimidation, reassignment, and any other discriminatory action that would negatively impact the terms and conditions of the Whistleblower’s employment, or would dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in further protected conduct.

Employees alleging whistleblower retaliation against an employer should retain experienced counsel as soon as possible, because many whistleblower retaliation claims have a short statute of limitations.

What is the best way to initially proceed if I have a whistleblower claim?

You should first procure qualified whistleblower legal counsel in order to ascertain your legal rights, as well as the best way to proceed in order to protect your interests, and to seek appropriate economic recovery.

Do I need to hire an attorney within the state I work and where the unlawful activity occurred?

No, because the primary remedy is often under the federal False Claims Act, it is not always necessary to hire a local attorney. If at any time it appears that local counsel may be preferable or needed as a member of the team, that can be addressed.

If I report fraud pursuant to this website, will my complaint be kept confidential?

Absolutely. Any information submitted will be kept strictly confidential, and only disclosed further with your specific knowledge and permission. Please fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page, and we will be in contact with you immediately.

What happens if I get fired?

Federal and state law provides very specific and vigorous protection for retaliation against whistleblowers.

If I blow the whistle, what’s in it for me?

Most whistleblower statutes provide that the person who “blows the whistle” may receive a substantial award. You can also take pride in the fact that you did the right thing, and “stood up to fraud!”