A whistleblower is someone who uncovers and reports wrongdoing, usually within a corporation or governmental organization. The actions revealed can range from corruption and fraud to environmental damage or public health threats. Standing up against these misdeeds can be a daunting task, but the protection and potential rewards offered by whistleblower laws may make the risk worthwhile.
Whistleblower laws, such as the federal False Claims Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, exist to encourage employees and others to come forward with information about illegal activities. But who exactly can file a whistleblower case?
Who is eligible to file a whistleblower case?
In most cases, any individual or entity with firsthand knowledge of illegal activities or fraud against the government can file a whistleblower case. This includes employees, contractors and sometimes even clients or competitors. You do not necessarily have to be an insider within the organization to blow the whistle on illegal activities.
What are the criteria for filing a whistleblower case?
The most crucial criterion for filing a whistleblower case is having original, non-public information about the fraud or wrongdoing. This means you should have evidence that is not already known to the public or government authorities. Your case may not proceed if your information is already in the public domain unless you were the original source of the information. You will need to file informational documents to make your case.
Are there whistleblower protections?
The fear of retaliation is a major deterrent for potential whistleblowers. Thankfully, several laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation by employers. Under these laws, an employer cannot fire, demote, harass or retaliate against an employee for filing a whistleblower case.
What are the potential rewards for whistleblowers?
Whistleblowers may also be eligible for financial rewards if their information leads to successful enforcement action. The reward amount varies depending on the laws under which you file the whistleblower case.
Virtually anyone with firsthand knowledge and evidence of illegal activities within an organization can file a whistleblower case. If you find yourself in such a situation, you can play a vital role in maintaining integrity and accountability in organizations and government agencies.