If there is one simple truth about corruption it is that it is not a new phenomenon. As long as there have been people, there have been people and organizations who acted dishonestly for their own personal gain, be it financial or otherwise. Over time, countless innocent people have been the victims of fraud and other unethical acts, whether in the workplace, in political settings, or in other areas. Fortunately, whistleblowing – reporting a known fraud or unethical act – is one of the best ways to fight corruption. If you are aware of corruption, unethical policies, or other misconduct that has harmed someone, you may be wondering what types of whistleblowing cases exist, what legal precedents have been set, and what protections whistleblowers have under federal or state law.
The issue of whistleblower protection is important because many whistleblowers have taken great personal and professional risks in order to advocate justice. Fortunately, over time, the way society views and treats whistleblowers has shifted in the direction of more positive attitudes. There are more whistleblower cases today than ever and more people speaking out in favor of fraud and corruption detection. Whistleblowers help move society towards fairer treatment of workers, consumers, medical patients and other groups who have historically been the victims of unfair policies, illegal acts and other misconduct.
The False Claims Act (FCA)
The False Claims Act (31 USC Sections 3729-3733), considered the first and most effective anti-fraud law in the country, was signed in 1862 and subsequently revised to strengthen its provisions. This law was first enacted after the Civil War when it was found that suppliers were providing troops with substandard equipment and services. The law allows any individual or non-governmental organization to be rewarded for filing a lawsuit on behalf of the US government and disclosing confidential information about fraud that has resulted in financial loss to the federal government.
Once a claim has been made, the US government can join the action. The Qui Tam or whistleblower provision states that whistleblowers can receive between 15% and 30% of the total proceeds raised in the event of successful prosecution. In some cases, the premium amount can be very high.
The law and its requirements are quite complex, especially now that a growing number of states have enacted similar laws to give whistleblowers a “finder’s fee” for reporting fraud. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to act as a whistleblower, and regulations may apply to conduct that takes place outside of the country while there is a contract, procurement, or federal expense. In addition, there is a statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit, which can be up to six years after a violation or up to three years after the government becomes aware of violations of the law. The FCA protects against a wide variety of types of crime, including:
- Government overload
- Submitting incorrect information on a government loan application
- Finding payments for goods and services outside of contractual or regulatory requirements
- request payment for defective goods or services that were of a lower quality than agreed in a contract
- try to pay the government less than the contracted amount
- fraudulent search for a government contract
- Submitting a false claim that the defendant was complying with an existing contract, regulation, or law
The biggest changes to the FCA were made in 1986 to encourage whistleblowers to come forward and to significantly increase the potential amount of damage awarded. According to the National Whistleblower Center, since these changes went into effect, 72% of funds reclaimed in procurement or contracting cases have been whistleblowers. Of the $ 42.5 billion that flowed into the U.S. Treasury from 1986 to 2018, whistleblowers were rewarded with $ 6.4 billion. In the 2019 fiscal year alone, an average of more than 12 Qui-Tam lawsuits were filed per week. Whistleblowers have become the main source of information on these fraud incidents and are now playing an important role in preventing government fraud.
Ready to start?
Get in touch
Whistleblower Examples: Individual whistleblowers and types of whistleblowing cases
There have been several famous, high-profile whistleblower examples over the past few decades, including Mark Felt, also known as Deep Throat, who was instrumental in helping reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring the Watergate scandal to light. There was also Frank Serpico, a cop who fought corruption within the New York Police Department. Houston-based Enron was also involved in a high profile whistleblower case when its vice president exposed the company’s illegal accounting practices. More recently, US soldier Chelsea Manning became a household name when she submitted hundreds of thousands of confidential or highly sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in the name of increasing government transparency, particularly regarding US involvement in the Iraq war.
Not every whistleblower example is famous or well known, however. Many examples of whistleblowing may never be known outside of the individuals, companies, and courtrooms involved. A few lesser-known examples of this type of case have included whistleblowers exposing defense companies who knowingly provided defective equipment to the military for profit, or exposing hospitals for fraudulent billing practices, e.g. B. Billing insurance companies for non-existent patients or tests that were not actually rendered.
There are many different types of whistleblower cases, but the main types of scams that individuals uncover are:
- Healthcare Fraud – This includes fraud on the part of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and other parties. The number of examples of personal injury resulting from such cases is quite large, as the effects on victims and their families can often be catastrophic.
- Tax fraud – Companies, corporations or individuals involved in illegal activities such as tax evasion, false income reporting, etc.
- Securities fraud – Also known as investment fraud, this involves inciting investors to buy or sell stocks under false pretenses.
- Contractor Fraud – when construction or defense companies outbid projects, falsify invoices, sell faulty equipment that leads to frequent site injuries, or perform illegal setbacks to maximize profits.
There are other types of whistleblower cases involving public and private corporations where employees expose and expose financial mismanagement, discrimination, health and safety violations, or other violations by their employers. As long as the employee has acted with good intentions in discovering the wrongdoing, he is legally protected from any kind of retaliation by his employer.
Whistle blowing in the workplace
Whistleblowing in the workplace is a type of internal whistleblowing – when someone who works for a company, organization or company exposes misconduct. In most cases that whistleblower is a worker or employee, but sometimes administrators and other supervisors advocate justice by pointing out illegal or unethical practices.
Whistleblowing in the workplace is often a risky business – people who disclose highly sensitive organizational secrets can be the target of retaliation from their employers. The Whistleblower Act helps protect federal employees who whistle their government agencies. But what protection is there for employees of private companies who want to expose the wrongdoing of their employers?
In 1970, the Labor Protection Agency administered the Labor Protection Act to ensure that employers in private companies create safe and healthy conditions for workers and other workers. Over thirty years later, in 2002, the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act was passed, in part in response to the Enron scandal, to further protect employees from unfair or illegal practices in the workplace.
Some of this newer legislation protects whistleblowing employees of publicly traded companies who may risk retaliation against their employers. The law also requires public companies to adopt comprehensive codes of ethics to internally address employee fraud allegations. Certain employees of private companies are also protected by this legislation. This legislation makes it illegal for employers to fire, demote, harass, discriminate, or otherwise punish workers for whistling about the wrongdoings of their employers.
Ready to start?
Get in touch
Whistleblower Retaliation: How to Protect Your Rights
Despite the numerous laws protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, anyone who exposes fraud or other misconduct is at risk of whistleblower retaliation. If you have reported wrongdoing or wrongdoing as a result of which you have been the victim of retaliation against whistleblowers, you have rights. Whether you are considering playing the pipe or if you’ve already done so and then suffered retaliation such as firing, demotion, or harassment, your next step should be to get experienced legal representation to help you secure the situation Justice supports.
Slack Davis Sanger protects whistleblowers
Slack Davis Sanger attorneys are experts in all types of anti-corruption claims, and we have experience representing clients against corporations or federal agencies who have committed misconduct. In many whistleblower claims cases, a feeling of David towards Goliath can arise, as whistleblowing is often carried out by a relatively powerless person against a sizable and wealthy company or other entity that has extensive financial and legal resources. This is another reason why hiring the best legal representation available is paramount, such as the skilled legal team at Slack Davis Sanger. We will use our deep knowledge of the law, including the legal precedents set in previous whistleblowing cases, to work tirelessly for your rights and to secure the harm you deserve.