Do I Have a Whistleblower Case?

Being a whistleblower is risky and can lead to retaliation. Still, it can also help expose wrongdoing and bring about change. Anyone can become a whistleblower if they have knowledge of illegal or unethical activities within an organization.

Whistleblowers are protected under federal and state laws against retaliation. Anonymity depends on the program being used, and a whistleblower can still come forward if they were involved in the violation.

Life after becoming a whistleblower can be difficult, but many believe their actions were necessary. Whistleblowers should assess their position and the information they have to determine if they have a viable case.

Question #1

Should I become a whistleblower?

Being a whistleblower can be risky, as it can lead to retaliation from those who are the subject of the whistleblower’s allegations. This retaliation can take many forms, including job loss, harassment, and even physical violence.

On the other hand, whistleblowers often play a crucial role in exposing wrongdoing and helping to bring about positive change. As such, they may be seen as heroes by some and villains by others. Consider seeking legal advice and support from a whistleblower attorney if you are a whistleblower concerned about a situation.

Continue reading to learn about the whistleblower lawsuit process.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

A whistleblower is a person who exposes illegal or unethical behavior within an organization. This exposure typically involves revealing information that is kept secret or confidential within the organization.

Reports may be either internal to the people within the organization who have the authority to take action or external to the public or the media. The goal of a whistleblower is to bring attention to the wrongdoing and help to stop it.

Read More
What is a Whistleblower?

Anyone can become a whistleblower if they know about illegal or unethical activities within an organization or company. Whistleblowers can include employees, contractors, suppliers, or even customers. Non-U.S. citizens can also become whistleblowers using U.S. whistleblower laws. However, not all will qualify for a reward.

Read More:
Can I Qualify for a Whistleblower Reward?

Whistleblower protection exists under federal and state laws. These laws provide legal remedies for whistleblowers who suffer retaliation for reporting wrongdoing or misconduct. Anti-retaliation provisions include protection from termination, demotion, harassment, blacklisting, or other forms of discrimination.

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Whistleblower Retaliation: Your Rights and Protections in the US

Under most whistleblower reward programs, whistleblower complaints are confidential, and the name of the person reporting is kept private. Anonymity, however, depends on the program used, as not all carry provisions for filing anonymously. The best way to protect your identity is to work with an attorney; most work on a contingency-fee-basis.

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Should I be an Anonymous or Confidential Whistleblower?

Yes, a whistleblower can come forward if involved in a violation. Their firsthand knowledge and involvement in the violation can provide valuable information and evidence to support their allegations.

However, they may face the consequences for their participation in the violation. They should consult with outside legal counsel before coming forward. Whistleblowers should avoid speaking with their company attorneys at all costs!

Do you have any information on the rules for each of the reward laws regarding one’s involvement? I just remember from my time working with KKC that some do.

Life after becoming a whistleblower can be difficult and often involves facing backlash, intimidation, and isolation. Many whistleblowers face retaliation from their employers, including being fired or demoted, and may struggle to find new employment.

They may also face legal challenges and personal attacks on their reputation. In some cases, whistleblowers may need to relocate or go into hiding to protect their safety.

Despite these challenges, many whistleblowers believe their actions were necessary to bring attention to important issues and protect others from harm.

Question #2

Do I have a whistleblower case?

When deciding if you have a viable whistleblower case, you must assess your position and the information you have. Whether you’re a government employee who spots contract fraud or works at a large financial institution and witnesses financial fraud, you may have grounds for a whistleblower claim.

There are a variety of whistleblower laws that protect individuals who report illegal activities, and it’s important to determine which laws apply to your situation.

Whistleblowers should also consider the potential rewards when reporting misconduct, as not all programs offer financial incentives. The reward amount will generally depend on the quality and timeliness of the information provided.

Common Questions

This may include financial fraud, such as embezzlement, accounting irregularities, or false statements to investors or regulators.

Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service whistleblower programs have the strongest whistleblower laws, providing rewards for reporting fraud.

Lastly, those reporting fraud in government contracting or healthcare may be eligible for rewards under the False Claims Act Qui Tam

This may include bribery, kickbacks, or other illegal or unethical conduct by public officials or employees.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which the SEC oversees, also provides whistleblower rewards to those reporting such illegal activity.

Violations of laws or regulations
This may include violations of environmental, health and safety, or consumer protection laws. Reward laws include the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and the Lacey Act.

Misuse of public funds or resources
Negligent use of public funds or resources. Whistleblowers can report this type of negligence under the False Claims Acts and receive rewards under the qui tam reward provision.

Discrimination or harassment
This may include discrimination or harassment based on race, gender, age, or other protected characteristics.

Under this type of misconduct, whistleblowers may want to use the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) or other programs under The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Retaliation against whistleblowers
This may include retaliation against employees who report wrongdoing, such as demotion, termination, or other adverse actions.

Almost all whistleblower programs have anti-retaliation provisions enforced by the regulatory agency with which the whistleblower first made contact.

A whistleblower complaint must involve a company or individual who has submitted false or fraudulent claims to the government for payment or approval to qualify under the False Claims Act. These complaints can include the following:

  • Falsely billing the government for goods or services not provided
  • Charging the government for higher prices than what was actually paid
  • Misrepresenting the quality or quantity of goods or services provided to the government
  • Concealing or avoiding paying the government money that is owed

If your complaint involves any of these types of fraud, it may qualify under the False Claims Act. It is important to consult with a qui tam attorney who has experience with qui tam whistleblower lawsuits to determine the specific eligibility of your complaint.

To qualify for the IRS whistleblower programs, your complaint must:

  • Involve potential tax evasion or fraud by an individual (their gross income must also exceed $200,000 for each taxable year) or business with more than $2 million in taxes owed.
  • Provide specific and credible information, such as documents or evidence, that supports the allegations of tax evasion or fraud.
  • Be submitted through the IRS Whistleblower Office’s online submission system or by mail.
  • Nobody previously disclosed the information to the IRS or another government agency.
  • Not be based on publicly available information, such as news articles or court records.

For assistance in determining whether your complaint qualifies, contact Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Regulators typically look for evidence that supports the allegations made by the whistleblower. Evidence may include internal company documents, emails, and other forms of written communication, as well as records of financial transactions and other relevant information. Regulators may also interview witnesses and conduct investigations to gather additional evidence.

A whistleblower may be entitled to a financial reward if the information provided leads to successful enforcement action. Whistleblower awards are typically determined by the relevant government agency or regulatory body overseeing the case. The reward amounts vary depending on the information provided.

A whistleblower should report fraud or misconduct as soon as possible after becoming aware of the situation. Delaying the report could allow the misconduct to continue and potentially cause further harm. Take the Aaron Westrick case as an example. Westrick’s False Claims Act lawsuit against the manufacturers of these faulty vests forced them off the market.

It depends on the specific circumstances and the laws governing the whistleblower reward program. In some cases, multiple whistleblowers may be eligible for a reward if they provide unique and valuable information that contributes to the success of the investigation or enforcement action.

In other cases, the first person to report the wrongdoing may be eligible for the full reward, with subsequent whistleblowers receiving a reduced reward or no reward.

The government expects whistleblowers to cooperate with the investigation in cases where the government intervenes. Cooperation may involve providing information and testimony to support the government’s investigation and prosecution of the wrongdoing. Failure to cooperate may result in penalties or other consequences for the whistleblower.

Question #3

What’s next? How do I blow the whistle?

If you’re serious about blowing the whistle, we suggest working with one of our whistleblower attorneys. Experienced in whistleblower law, our partners and associates provide guidance on legal requirements and procedures for filing a whistleblower complaint.

Our attorneys have experience working on whistleblower cases. They can help navigate the complex lawsuit process, including collecting evidence, preparing and filing the complaint, and representing you in court.

Furthermore, our attorneys can help protect your rights as a whistleblower and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process. They can also help you avoid any potential retaliation from your employer.

They can help you maximize your potential reward by identifying potential claims and damages, negotiating with the government, and ensuring you receive an award

  • Research and compare different whistleblower lawyers to find one with a proven track record of success handling whistleblower cases.
  • Consider a lawyer who specializes in whistleblower law and has experience with cases similar to yours.
  • Look for a lawyer knowledgeable about the relevant laws and regulations and who has a strong understanding of the whistleblower process.
  • Consider a lawyer willing to provide a free consultation to discuss your case and assess its merits.
  • Look for a lawyer willing to take your case on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay if you win your case.
  • Choose a lawyer committed to protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests throughout the whistleblower process.
  • A whistleblower complaint typically includes information about the alleged wrongdoing or misconduct, including details about the individuals involved and the specific actions taken.

It might also include any evidence or documentation that supports the allegations, such as emails, memos, or witness statements. And even the potential impact of the wrongdoing on the organization or individuals affected.

The whistleblower will also want to provide details of any efforts to address the issue internally, such as reporting it to a supervisor or other authority.

Finally, they will want to provide any potential conflicts of interest or other relevant information that may be relevant to the investigation.

When a whistleblower complaint is filed under seal, the complaint is not made public or shared with anyone outside the appropriate investigative authorities.

This is done to protect the identity of the whistleblower and the integrity of the investigation. It also allows the investigation to proceed without interference or outside influence.

During a government investigation of a whistleblower complaint, the following steps typically occur:

  • The government agency that received the complaint will review it to determine if it falls within its jurisdiction and whether it merits further investigation.
  • If the complaint is deemed valid and falls within the agency’s jurisdiction, the agency will assign an investigator to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.
  • The investigator will gather evidence and interview witnesses, including the whistleblower and any individuals named in the complaint.
  • The investigator will compile a report detailing the findings of the investigation and submit it to the agency’s leadership for review.
  • If the agency determines that the complaint is valid and warrants action, it will take appropriate disciplinary or corrective measures.
  • The agency may also provide the whistleblower protection against retaliation for making the complaint.
  • Throughout the investigation process, the agency will keep the whistleblower informed of the progress and outcome of the investigation.

It depends on the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence that needs to be collected and reviewed. Generally, a whistleblower investigation can take several months to a few years to complete.

When the government concludes its investigation, it will issue a deciion accused of wrongdoing, and issue penalties, fines, and criminal charges. The government may also choose to settle with the company.

The government may also compensate the whistleblower for their role in bringing the wrongdoing to light. The government may implement policy changes or other measures to prevent similar misconduct from reoccurring.

When the government intervenes in a whistleblower case, it typically means that the government has decided to take legal action in response to the information the whistleblower has brought.

This could involve investigating the allegations raised by the whistleblower and potentially pursuing criminal or civil charges against any individuals or organizations found to have engaged in wrongdoing.

The government’s involvement can ensure that the allegations are thoroughly investigated and that justice is served.

If the government decides not to intervene in a False Claims Act whistleblower case, the individual who filed the whistleblower complaint may still have the option to pursue the case on their own (only under the False Claims Act).

However, without the support and resources of the government, the individual may face challenges in collecting evidence and proving the allegations. The case may also be less likely to result in significant consequences for the party accused of wrongdoing.

The government expects whistleblowers to cooperate with the investigation in cases where the government intervenes. Cooperation may involve providing information and testimony to support the government’s investigation and prosecution of the wrongdoing. Failure to cooperate may result in penalties or other consequences for the whistleblower.

We Can Help

Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto is a renowned law firm representing whistleblowers since 1988. We have an in-depth understanding of whistleblower legislation. We have even contributed to the creation of some of the rules governing this area of law. Our firm has a long history of success, having secured significant rewards for our clients. If you have a case, get in touch today.