Are You Ready to Be a Whistleblower?
Understand the Risks and Reward of Becoming a Whistleblower
In 1987, the government increased incentive payments to whistleblowers. That year, 30 citizens filed Qui Tam litigation. In 2013, 753 Qui Tam lawsuits were filed. The government recovered $3.8 billion dollars and $387 million was awarded to the individuals who initiated those claims.
Under the False Claims Act and other whistleblower laws, citizens who initiate Qui Tam lawsuits are eligible for 15 to 30 percent of the government’s recovery. This means that whistleblowers can receive significant financial rewards. But, a whistleblower reward isn’t easy money. Whistleblowers risk retaliation from their employer, damage to their professional reputation, and the loss of personal relationships.
Five Things to Know Before You Become a Whistleblower
- You may face retaliation from your employer. Retaliation by an employer is illegal, but it is not uncommon. Your job duties may suddenly change. You may be told you have to work a less convenient shift. You may be transferred to a remote location. Or you may be demoted or fired. If you are facing retaliation, contact an attorney immediately. You can fight back.
- Whistleblowing can affect your future career. You are standing up for your principles and doing what is right. Some potential employers will see this as a sign of your integrity, but others may see you as disloyal.
- You may face financial strain. The government will cover your legal fees if you win your qui tam case; however, some attorneys may require you to pay legal fees upfront. This may be especially difficult if you lost your job because of retaliation.
- Your relationships will be tested. Your former workplace “friends” may see you as a troublemaker who is disloyal to the company. Your spouse may get tired of the ongoing legal action and your duty of confidentiality. Your family may resent your loss of income and may feel that your dedication to doing what is right is coming at their expense. However, you will know you can count on those who stand by your side.
- There are no guarantees. Your case may seem open and shut, but in law and life there are no guarantees. You should not count on winning your case and being paid a portion of the recovery.
Why Be a Whistleblower?
When you are a whistleblower you make a difference. You stand up for what is right and you set an example for others. You may also benefit financially. In 2013, an Alabama nurse was paid $15 million for her role in stopping fraudulent medical billing.
Making the Right Choice
How do you know what’s right for you? Contact Petrelli Law at 800-432-9461. An attorney will listen to your story, explain the potential risks and rewards, and help you make an informed decision. There is no charge for consultation and everything you say will be kept confidential.