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Do the Laws Protecting Whistleblowers Do What It’s Supposed to Do?

Reporting fraud is a little bit safer when there are laws protecting whistleblowers.

Laws Protecting WhistleblowersIf there are laws protecting whistleblowers, then it’s more likely you will have people blowing the whistle on fraud and other improper behavior. This is because becoming a whistleblower can be very dangerous, both physically and for the whistleblower’s career. Therefore, before someone steps forward to report wrongdoing, they will want reassurances that they will have protection. Or they at least want to have a legal remedy if they suffer retaliation. The following is a discussion of the whistleblower protections provided by the False Claims Act.

The Necessity of Whistleblower Protections

When a person decides to be a whistleblower, they expose themselves to risk. There is the potential for retaliation from coworkers, bosses, and anyone else adversely affected when the fraud can no longer occur. This retaliation can take many forms, including professional actions like firings, pay cuts, disciplinary action, and demotions. But it can also be outside of work, such as harassment at home, online bullying, and physical violence.

To help reduce the chances of this retaliatory harm from occurring, the False Claims Act has a few protections for whistleblowers. Each of these has moderate levels of success.

Secrecy

The best way to avoid repercussions as a whistleblower is to keep the identity of the whistleblower a secret. After all, how can a boss fire the “snitch” employee if the boss doesn’t know who the whistleblower is? The primary way the False Claims Act maintains secrecy is to allow the relator (who is usually the whistleblower) to file the qui tam complaint under seal. This means that the defendant does not know that a lawsuit is now pending.

But this secrecy ends when the Department of Justice ends its investigation into the alleged fraud. Assuming the person or company committing the scam doesn’t already know who the whistleblower is, they will now, because they will receive a copy of the complaint. And it’s fair to assume that the defendant will be very angry. They may be upset and work very hard to identify the whistleblower. Depending on the fraud, the organization where the fraud took place and those involved, it may be tough to figure out who the whistleblower is.

Most of the time, the defendant will figure out who the whistleblower is before trial. The can eventually connect the dots. By using simple logic and asking around the office, they will have a good idea who the whistleblower is. But even if they never figure out it themselves, they probably will in court during the trial. This is because most likely, the relator will play a role.

So the secrecy provides some protections, but many defendants can still figure out who the whistleblower is. And even when they can’t, the defendant will almost always find out who the whistleblower is during the trial.  

Anti-Retaliation Provisions

The False Claims Act has specific provisions in place that prohibit employers from retaliating against a whistleblower. Forms of prohibited retaliation include bullying, harassment, threats and other adverse employment actions, like firings. Should retaliation take place, the whistleblower is eligible to receive his or her old job back, back pay, attorney’s fees, and interest. This sounds great, but it’s not the best protection for a whistleblower for several reasons.

First, the whistleblower must prove the employer engaged in retaliation. This is not always easy to do. A slick employer can make up a plausible legal reason for firing or disciplining an employee. That’s true even when the real reason is retaliation for being a whistleblower.

Second, even if the whistleblower wins the retaliation case, the damages they receive usually won’t make up for the fact that they cannot realistically work at their old job again. Yes, they can get their job back. But no reasonable person wants to go back to a position where the employer is just itching for a reason to get revenge.

Third, the worst form of retaliation is usually something that’s almost impossible to prove and for the courts to do anything about: blackballing.

How Does Blackballing Play Out?

Blackballing occurs when the retaliating employer takes steps to ruin the professional career of the whistleblower by preventing them from getting another job in their chosen field. The employer might do this by casually talking to other employers that might potentially hire the whistleblower. The employer will say anything to ruin the whistleblower’s chances of getting a new job. Sometimes it will make up flat-out lies. Other times, it will merely tell the truth. Most prospective employers don’t like the idea of hiring a snitch. Whatever the employer says, it will make it impossible or very difficult for the whistleblower to find another job in a similar industry or field

Do You Need Protection under the Laws Protecting Whistleblowers?

To learn more about the laws protecting whistleblowers, contact the skilled attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.

How to Tell If You’ve Hired the Best Whistleblower Attorneys Available

best Whistleblower Attorneys

best Whistleblower AttorneysIs it worth it to hire the best whistleblower attorneys? Qui tam cases can result in rewards in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. When that kind of money is on the line, you don’t want to take chances. If you are building your dream home, you want the best housebuilders around. If you are bringing a qui tam case, you want the best whistleblower attorneys to help you.

Here are a few factors to consider as you determine whether or not you’ve found the best whistleblower attorneys for your qui tam case:

The Best Whistleblower Attorneys Know Their Stuff

It’s pretty simple to become the lead dog at anything; you need to know what you’re doing. The greatest teacher is experience. When you look for a whistleblower attorney, look for someone who has a track record proving their knowledge and their ability to win.

Most attorneys have an area in which they excel and focus and receive ongoing training in that area, and also know the most up-to-date information. When it comes to whistleblowing, the entire process is very detailed and can be complicated. Your attorney needs to know the best move to make at each stage of the game.

Don’t settle for an attorney with just a winning track record in court. You want to choose an attorney with a winning record for qui tam cases. The qui tam case is different than many other types of lawsuits because you are bringing a case to the government for investigation. There are layers of red tape and plenty of I’s to dot and T’s to cross, so everything is laid out according to the rules.

Many attorneys have experience in employment discrimination suits or class action suits, which have certain commonalities with False Claims Act suits, but this is not the same as a lawyer who knows how to handle the critical differences of a whistleblower suit properly. Make sure you choose an attorney with a proven track record of qui tam cases they have won in court.

A good qui tam case requires a lot of resources, both financial and human. There are a lot of expenses involved in building a whistleblower case. Money is needed for investigating, filing papers, and hiring consultants to research and analyze documentation. Every allegation needs to be substantiated, and that takes time and money.

Experienced whistleblower attorneys have a team of lawyers and other professionals to take on the work. Experts, each working in their particular area, will put together the most airtight case possible. These experts will need to meet with you to consult and gather your information. The right whistleblower attorney may even take care of the travel expenses for you.

Look for Whistleblower Attorneys You Like

A strong whistleblower case doesn’t happen quickly. It can take as long as three years, so you want to make sure you like your attorney. While their knowledge and track record are both critical, you need to have an attorney who you like so you don’t cringe every time you have contact. Your attorney is the one who not only puts your case together but also negotiates your reward, so a solid working relationship is important.

Make sure the attorney you choose is willing to listen to you and provide you with updates on the case. While you can’t expect him to call you with every little detail, you should receive regular updates when progress takes place.

Your qui tam attorney must convince the Department of Justice to intervene and take on your case. While the strength of your case will be the determining factor, a good relationship can only work in your favor.

Whistleblowing can be very stressful, and you want an attorney who understands that and has some compassion for your position.

Has Your Whistleblower Attorney Made It Clear Why You Should Hire Them?

When interviewing attorneys for the job, make sure you ask them plenty of questions and make sure you get clear answers. Find out if they have the time and resources to represent your case efficiently. Ask about their track record with qui tam cases and request some real-life examples.

Question how much documentation they need from you and what their policy is to find more. Ask about retainer fees and contingency fees. Find out if the firm covers the expenses, to be recouped from the reward. If not, what are the expectations for payment? Ask if they will ask for damages including their fees or if the costs will come out of the reward.

You hire your attorneys, and, therefore, they work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you need to ask to feel confident in your decision. Once you hire your attorneys, trust in their ability to do what you need, unless the evidence shows they cannot. When you can trust your lawyer, much of your stress related to the case will fall away.

If you’re planning a whistleblower case, the attorney you hire is the most important decision you can make. Have questions about what makes for the best whistleblower attorneys? Contact the Bothwell Law Group online today.

How Can a Federal Fraud Whistleblower Attorney Help Me as a Whistleblower?

Federal Fraud Whistleblower Attorney

Federal Fraud Whistleblower AttorneyIf you have information regarding fraudulent crimes against the government, the best thing you can do is hire a federal fraud whistleblower attorney to handle your case. Being represented by a lawyer who has experience and knowledge in federal fraud whistleblowing means they will protect your rights. Having this protection will enable you to relax, knowing you’ve done the right thing without having to pay the price for someone else’s crime.

Bringing evidence of fraud against the federal government is a daunting task, especially when your job is in the mix. When you have a federal fraud whistleblower attorney on your side, it’s like having a protective covering over your steps. You can release all the stress of missing a step or failing to fill out the proper documentation because your attorney knows how to cover every single detail.

Look at it this way. You wouldn’t spend a day at the beach without an umbrella for protection from the blazing sun, would you? Of course not! When you have an attorney who knows every detail of federal fraud whistleblower cases, you’re protected from unforeseen circumstances.

Your Federal Fraud Whistleblower Attorney Is on Your Side

When you bring a fraud case to the attention of the government, it can feel like that is the last decision you make. After all, the government does the investigation to uncover the evidence. The government decides whether the fraud constitutes a crime. They decide if the case has merit and should go to court. Then they decide all the details about how to present the case. It can feel like there is nothing more you can do.

If you have an attorney who knows the ins and outs of whistleblower fraud law, however, you have someone who has a vested interest in your side.  With a lawyer trained in whistleblower law, you can be assured your rights are protected, both at your job and in the court proceedings. In fact, should the government decide not to bring a court case forward, your attorney can help you decide if you should move forward on your own.

Your Federal Fraud Whistleblower Attorney Can Protect Your Job

Federal law protects whistleblowers’ jobs. In 1989, whistleblower laws were amended to provide protection to employees who inform the government about illegal fraud practices. Although there are laws in place to protect against loss of employment as well as harassment in the form of promotion denials, denials of wage increases and many other aspects of employment, these unfair and illegal practices still happen frequently.

Having an attorney who knows the law and how to enforce it could be one of the best reasons for hiring a federal fraud whistleblower attorney. Most of us have no idea how many protection laws are in place to safeguard the whistleblower’s job, earnings, and benefits. With the right attorney, you could make sure you receive two times any back pay, plus interest if you are let go or demoted for whistleblowing. You can also get your seniority status reinstated as a matter of law if you return to your position.

Your Federal Fraud Whistleblower Attorney Can Protect Your Freedom

If you are aware of fraud concerning Medicare and Medicaid, and you do NOT disclose the fraud, you could be looking at some legal consequences of your own. Known as “failure to disclose,” this law states that failing to report health care program fraud is a crime in itself. By contacting an attorney who knows the details of this and other whistleblower laws, you know you have someone who is going to protect you legally from the first step of disclosure all the way through to the resolution of the case.

The penalties for failure to disclose unlawful Medicare or Medicaid payments or overcharges are highest for the provider who receives the fees and doesn’t inform the government. That provider is committing a felony and can face a fine up to $25,000 as well as prison time for as long as five years. While the penalties for an employee are much lower fines and a misdemeanor offense, you can be prosecuted for not sharing what you know.

If you are aware of fraudulent business practices that are stealing money from the government, you need to make sure you get representation to both protect and reward you for the risk in reporting it. You need a federal fraud whistleblower attorney to work alongside you to win your case. Contact our team of skilled federal fraud whistleblower attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.