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Reporting Fraud: 3 Protections for Whistleblowers

April 14, 2014

Reporting Fraud: 3 Protections for Whistleblowers

Coat of Arms

The simple answer: expose it.

Yet, the reality is that reporting fraud can be scary. You might fear losing your job or suffering harassment at work.

Having filed numerous claims on behalf of whistleblowers, I can attest that coming forward is one of the most difficult decisions a person will ever make.

However, the government needs the public’s assistance to police the private sector and catch fraudulent activity. That’s why the government offers a number of protections to encourage whistleblowers to step forward.

Government Protections for Whistleblowers

If you decide to report fraud, here are the protections you will receive from the government:

1. Confidentiality.

Unlike other lawsuits, a complaint filed under the False Claims Act is not brought specifically in the name of the whistleblower. Rather, the complaint is filed by United States on the behalf of the whistleblower against the offending company.

The complaint is filed under seal, along with a comprehensive memorandum detailing the allegations. This means that although the process is initiated, your employer is not notified.

The government then engages in a process of discovery, which includes interviewing individuals associated with the claim and obtaining documents from the employer. Even while doing this, your identity is protected.

Only after the government decides to move forward on the case will the seal be lifted and your employer served with the complaint. If the government decides not to intervene and the whistleblower decides not to pursue the case on his own, it is unlikely that the employer will ever become aware of who brought the action against them.

2. No retaliation.

The government also protects whistleblowers from a retaliatory discharge claim. Simply put, an employer cannot retaliate against a potential whistleblower for bringing an action in good faith against them.

3. Financial compensation.

If the government brings a claim, it is obvious that it would be difficult for an employer to remain at that job site. However, the financial compensation for a successful whistleblower case will give you to the flexibility to seek employment elsewhere. 

Although it is difficult to blow the whistle on your employer, perhaps the best reason to do so is the peace of mind that comes with doing the right thing. However, when that is not enough, these protections are in place to serve as added motivation.

This blog post originally appeared as a guest article on the Nashville Business Journal’s BizBlog.